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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Living at Odds

I absolutely LOVE reading my devotional each day. I love how when I come down and click on it there in my e-mail that I know something that makes me who I am in Christ will be confirmed. I will be affirmed. I will be encouraged. Encouraged to encourage others and to give from the flood of blessings that come to me from God. How is it I manage to fall away? It puzzles me - but I do, and I will - more than likely - but for now, what a wonderful place to be.

In my reading of David Jeremiah and his e-devotional this morning, for todays blog will be mostly about my thoughts on my reading and ruminations from it, he pointed out that there are many things that are at odds in kingdom living.

"Many things about the kingdom of God seem odd to those who are not its citizens. Kingdom citizens gain by giving, live by dying, and become great by becoming least. But perhaps the greatest oddity in the kingdom of God is when Christians find joy in pain and suffering. There is something unnatural about rejoicing in the midst of trials."
-David Jeremiah

This thrilled me. I literally had goosebumps. If you have read at all of my last year - then you know that I have had a few trials. They were less than some folks but to me they have been horrifying at times, so painful and I have been broken and sad. So sad. But one thing I know about myself is - I am a weenie. I am not made of stern stuff. So my trials would be blips in someone elses life, although I must say some of them were pretty big blows. Anyway - all that to say - I understand about finding joy in pain and suffering. I have it. It has been the oddest thing but I truly love being where I am. I have never depended on my heavenly Father more for my daily bread, for my and my family's needs - both spiritual and physical or for my happiness.

Not only can we find joy in suffering - but I have found that in order to GAIN, we are to GIVE. One more thing that has been impressed upon me. The hoarding and living like we have nothing to offer is wrong. We have plenty to offer. It may not be from a huge house with a man cave ( I admit - I would love a man cave for all the man cubs in my household), BUT it is a warm, sweet little house that has good food and laughter, a lake right down the street for one of life's more enjoyable pass-times (fishing) and a hill for sliding - whether leafy or snowy(HA) - yes - we have hill surfing and I offer it up to those who would like to give it a whirl. We have so much to offer.

David Jeremiah points out that the Bible does not say give thanks FOR everything but to give God thanks IN everything. No matter what we go through we are to thank God for the blessings we do have. To find a grateful heart in the midst of our hardships. God gave me the ability to do so. With every new hardship, I thanked God for what we had. For we are rich. We have much. We are not paupers - spiritually or physically.

And the most important spiritually impressive point being, believers DIE to themselves in order to LIVE life to the fullest. In dying to ourselves we find that we truly live. This is an amazing and liberating find. If one can find a way to understand this wonderful concept (pray for it friends - it will come, and if you are like me understanding will go, then come back again - as long as you keep on - keep on) life will become more full than it could ever be imagined.

I love living a life of paradox. It has been an amazing thing to find that in the midst of all the hard stuff that goes on, there absolutely can be joy.

1 Peter 1:3-7 (New King James Version)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.


6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Proverbs 30

Proverbs 30


Sayings of Agur

1 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.

This man’s utterance to Ithiel:



“I am weary, God,

but I can prevail.

2 Surely I am only a brute, not a man;

I do not have human understanding.

3 I have not learned wisdom,

nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.

4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down?

Whose hands have gathered up the wind?

Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?

Who has established all the ends of the earth?

What is his name, and what is the name of his son?

Surely you know!

5 “Every word of God is flawless;

he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

6 Do not add to his words,

or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

7 “Two things I ask of you, LORD;

do not refuse me before I die:

8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

give me neither poverty nor riches,

but give me only my daily bread.

9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you

and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’

Or I may become poor and steal,

and so dishonor the name of my God.

10 “Do not slander servants to their master,

or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.

11 “There are those who curse their fathers

and do not bless their mothers;

12 those who are pure in their own eyes

and yet are not cleansed of their filth;

13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty,

whose glances are so disdainful;

14 those whose teeth are swords

and whose jaws are set with knives

to devour the poor from the earth

and the needy from among humankind.

15 “The leech has two daughters.

‘Give! Give!’ they cry.

“There are three things that are never satisfied,

four that never say, ‘Enough!’:

16 the grave, the barren womb,

land, which is never satisfied with water,

and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

17 “The eye that mocks a father,

that scorns an aged mother,

will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,

will be eaten by the vultures.

18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me,

four that I do not understand:

19 the way of an eagle in the sky,

the way of a snake on a rock,

the way of a ship on the high seas,

and the way of a man with a young woman.

20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman:

She eats and wipes her mouth

and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’

21 “Under three things the earth trembles,

under four it cannot bear up:

22 a servant who becomes king,

a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,

23 a contemptible woman who gets married,

and a servant who displaces her mistress.

24 “Four things on earth are small,

yet they are extremely wise:

25 Ants are creatures of little strength,

yet they store up their food in the summer;

26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,

yet they make their home in the crags;

27 locusts have no king,

yet they advance together in ranks;

28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,

yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,

four that move with stately bearing:

30 a lion, mighty among beasts,

who retreats before nothing;

31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,

and a king secure against revolt.

32 “If you play the fool and exalt yourself,

or if you plan evil, clap your hand over your mouth!

33 For as churning cream produces butter,

and as twisting the nose produces blood,

so stirring up anger produces strife.”


I am amazed at how I seem to connect to Agur. A man from so long ago and yet, I love what he says. I like the randomness of his thought patterns but the truth and simplicity of what he says. My favorite thing he says is:


7 “Two things I ask of you, LORD;


do not refuse me before I die:


8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;


give me neither poverty nor riches,


but give me only my daily bread.


9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you


and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’


Or I may become poor and steal,


and so dishonor the name of my God.

It just makes such good sense. And as you know - I am a HUGE fan of common sense, even though at times I do not show it. I pulled this from my devotional from David Jeremiah today and thought it was worth sharing. Especially given the economy and the preparations for a new year.

Here's the link: http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/magazine.aspx?id=4402
Prov 30 is from yesterday though.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Born to Die

There is an old song that we used to sing at our Easter Cantata when I was a little girl. It was called Born to Die. Every Christmas, I think of it. The fact is that Christ's whole human existence was based on this plan. Without it - there would be no hope.

The fact is, it blows my mind. I don't understand that kind of sacrifice. Though I am grateful for it. Thank goodness Christmas is about so much more than just pretty lights and presents. I am so very thankful for a selfless love - the Greatest Gift.

We who have heard along with the shepherds, the call of the angels to come and see - we are so very blessed -


10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2



Friday, December 17, 2010

This....Means.....War.....

Okay - so, about 4 weeks ago I realized I was clenching my teeth. Apparently stressed and taking it out on my jaws. I got an abscess. Horrid little thing. Painful. Still, I did what I had to. Had a blessed Thanksgiving and come to find out that abscess is not going to get better and it is in a tooth that already had a root canal so they had to pull it. Absolutely nightmarish experience. I seriously urge you never to have a tooth pulled without being put under. It was so bad. And it hurt afterwards too...for days. But meanwhile the electricity has gone bad in my house (something needs to be replaced), the car broke down, I missed my jury duty and figured it out 2 days later at 8:00pm, and feared contempt of court, one kid got sick, the other got sick, I tripped over the dog and twisted my ankle and then got called today that another child had lice, was leaving to go pick him up from school and fell down a flight of stairs. My knee is as big as a grapefruit and I have bruises up one side and down the other. Then as I was washing all of the bed linens and such after shampooing 3 boys with Rid and combing through their hair with a lice comb, the electricity goes wonky again and I can't get the kids blankets  dry. So I have to use all kinds of crazy things to make sure they stay warm.

I kid you not.

It has been one of those months.

I am exhausted, mentally, and physically. The one thing I can be thankful for is that God has shown himself faithful through it all. My family is safe, warm and fed. I have everything that I need. We all have everything that we need. Praise God!

I will say though that I feel like I am under attack. There are moments where I would gladly pull my hair out to distract myself from the events that are going on. One. After. The. Other.

 I am so tempted to feel sorry for myself. There are many times when I just list the things in my head and can feel myself about to fall headlong into self pity.

But instead of doing that, I find that I am getting angry. It makes me so mad that all of this is going on. And I am pretty sure I know why. God has finally gotten my attention after a deficit of years and Satan is not happy.

So - this means war. My bruised and battered physical and emotional body is tired - my spiritual being will fight back. By putting on the full armour of God.

The Armor of God - Ephesians 6:



10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
 
Isn't that awesome? I have a defense in this time of extreme stress and conflict.
 
Philippians 2

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:


6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,


to the glory of God the Father.


12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

These passages are such a comfort to me. When I read them, everything in me seems to take a deep breath and relax. I love the Word of God. And Philippians 2 is the Christmas Story - in a nutshell. God became man - humbled himself to serve and save. If that does not give joy - I don't know what does.

So - I am not taking this lying down. I have put up my dukes and have a sure defense in this time of struggle.

It's actually not a bad place to be. Please pray for us. We need the strength that comes from our brothers and sisters lifting us up to our Father. Let's band together and fight the good fight.

1 Timothy 6:11-12
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Day

Well - I only woke up at 4:30AM this morning. That was actually not bad at all. It kind of makes me feel like I can be leisurely in my reading and functionality for the day. I like that. It happens so rarely.

Once again I was up and came down to read and was reminded about all of the things I love about being in precarious places. Sounds crazy. But it's true. There is an underlying excitement to see what God will do. Not being able to trace his hand but fully being able to trust his heart (as the old New Song ballad goes) is absolutely thrilling to see unfold. Of course I fall into my ol' doubting Thomas routine quite often. But I love the days that I find the internal fortitude God has placed in my reach and live by it. Amazing! Exciting!


Psalm 1
1 Blessed is the one


who does not walk in step with the wicked


or stand in the way that sinners take


or sit in the company of mockers,


2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,


and who meditates on his law day and night.


3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,


which yields its fruit in season


and whose leaf does not wither—


whatever they do prospers.


4 Not so the wicked!


They are like chaff


that the wind blows away.


5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,


nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.


6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,


but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

I love the Psalms. I can pretty much read one chapter every day and find something to apply. And I love to apply. I am not philosophical, or logical - I am a common sense kind of girl. And Psalms just fits the bill.

So today - and every day - I know that God is watching over me - I long to be that person that is planted by the river of waters which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. And I believe that I can trust God to see that it is so.

Now this is a great way to start the day.
Blessings!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Assurance

I woke up at 3:30AM. Wide awake. Mind going full blast. Number crunching, going over the calendar, figuring how, what, when and why. I berated myself. I wished for a re-do. I talked to God. I asked him ridiculous questions, knowing all the while that his ways are higher than mine and there was no way to understand them. But I needed him to talk to me.

I threw on my Tennessee sweatshirt stumbled over the dogs (again) to get downstairs. And I went to my source. The Word.

I don't know where to go. I just want God to talk to me. So, I go to my devotional. I get it in my e-mail every day. I am thankful for this vehicle of e-mail. When I lack the intentionality to be able to search God's Word on my own. My e-mail devotional always seems to be able to put the finger on the spot. I love that about God. He manages to place what I need before me - in the form of a daily devotional sent through my e-mail - that can instantly give me what I need. A Word from God. Wow.

We are in a trial period. There is no doubt about that. The economy, and circumstances have brought us to a place where every day is walked by faith. We pray for God's protection and I am always reminded of my pastor, Alan, asking God in prayer to show us mercy and do not give us what we deserve, and I and agree wholeheartedly.  I read God's amazing gift in words to me - for this day. For this moment.

James 1:2-8

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways

And instantly, my reason for waking is evident. My need for God is filled and I am comforted. I have everything I need for this moment - even more than I asked for. My request for wisdom and to know what to do has been presented to the Lord. I can trust that he heard me - and that he will take care of my need when it comes time. Maybe not in the way I had hoped. But for now - and now is all I need - I am comforted. I can trust that my "now" will have always have the grace that God provides for that moment. It is extremely reassuring.

What is more - how good is God to a sleep deprived woman to send her an e-mail reassuring her that not only is he enough, he is building character and patience in her. Not only does he want her to come before him and ask - he will see that she is made more like him in the process.

I am rich beyond measure.
Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me - bless his name.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

T'is the Season for Giving

I love gifts. So much fun to get a gift and to be able to use it. And it is almost every day this time of year! So much fun. God pointed something out to me today - bear with me as it unravels.

There are three things I am compelled to do, I do it whether I do it for you or just for me.

I sing. I write. I refurbish.

You may not hear me sing, I don't get to do it as much as I would like these days. That does not mean it won't happen. I am just in a season of not publicly singing - oh but I sing. The car. The shower. All around the house. At work. I get busted occasionally at work.

Over the course of the last couple of years I have come to love the ability to blog. Not only do I get to write - I get to PUBLISH it. Do I make money from my grand pen? Nope. But it is very fulfilling to me. I enjoy it immensley. And I have done it long before I started my blog. I have notebooks upon notebooks of my writing. When I go back and read them, I cry, I am embarrassed, I laugh - I am amazed - by God's goodness to me.

Since I have been married, I have started a new thing. I refurbish things. I take the old and make it newer. I will post some pictures of some of my projects. But I have a crawl space full of things I intend to "makeover". I have chairs - one of which I snagged from someone's garbage in Mountain Brook and carried a mile home - while 5 months pregnant with child. I love that chair. I do not think I could get rid of it now for anything. Everytime I look at it, I think - "How in the world did I do that 5 months pregnant?" I have two chairs in my living room my Mom picked up from someones garbage. She got three - we remade two.  I love those chairs. She and I re-upholstered them together. I love those chairs. They remind me of my sweet Mom and the gifts I have acquired from her.

All of this to say folks is when I woke up this morning, I was going over my day in my head and letting God know that this day was his and everything in it. I was telling him my heart and I came downstairs to do my reading.

Look at what I read:

Romans 12:3-8

Serve God with Spiritual Gifts



3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Here - Paul is relating God's desire for us to use our spiritual gifts to encourage and serve others. I think God wants us to do this with the other gifts he gives us as well. We should use them to serve others, to encourage others, to build others up. If you are sitting on the gifts - spiritiual - or physical - you are not fulfulling God's purpose for your life.

Find your gifts - use your gifts - give your gifts. You will be happier for it. The reason God gave the ultimate gift was for us to have life and have it more abundantly. The key is to use his liberal gifts for his glory!

John 10:9,10
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me,he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For whom the Lord loves he chastens...

For several months now - there has been housecleaning going on in my spiritual life. I asked God to help me do right, to expose my sin and to make me like him. Every hidden thing has come to light. The things I could not confess out loud he helped me by exposing and I am so repentant. The consequences of my sin are hard. So hard. It is painful and it is weighty and I am having to look to God to help me moment by moment.

This morning in my reading Hebrews 12 encouraged and showed me something else I have asked for countless times. "Lord, show me you love me."

The Discipline of God


3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“ My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
 
And though this present life is hard, I pray that God will remind me of his love for me. Through tears of sadness and frustration even, I had to thank God for answering my prayers. He is making me more like him, and he is chastening me - he loves me. What an amazing and wonderful thing to KNOW.
 
I can only be grateful.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Truly Grateful....


The other day I was doing my usual wrestling with my baggage. My "baggage" is everything I cannot let go of and gripe about consistently - if not out loud, certainly in my head. I think I was in the middle of "I have given up so much, and deserve better than...", when a picture of who I really am suddenly popped into my mind. It was not pretty. I saw my selfishness - displayed in many relationships, and my rebelliousness, unfortunately seen in every area of my life...I saw the times I was unkind and ungrateful and mean spirited. Apparently, I try to block these things out - because I was pretty shocked at the truly unlovely me.

It occured to me - I have so much more than I deserve. And I meant it - and still mean it. I deserve nothing - less than nothing, and yet God has blessed me with so much. I have a wonderful husband, who makes me laugh, he plays with our boys and he works hard to provide for us. My kids are amazing. They are so smart and such sweet boys. My Mom and Dad are the most precious folks in the world - willing to do so much and tirelessly so at their retirement age. My mother and father-in-law are much like my mother and father. The support and help they give is such a comfort, and our relationship is amazing. My entire family blesses me - both Andy's and mine - they constantly bring me joy. I love my church family - so blessed by them and their encouragement. We have a wonderful home in a great neighborhood, with amazing neighbors. The public schools my boys go to are full of precious people, and wonderful Christians striving to be salt and light in a world of things gone topsy turvy. I have been blessed with sweet friendships from unexpected places. What is more - this list goes on - and on.

How shameful of me to turn so inward that I cannot see the blessings that are all about me everyday. Apparently, it will be something I have to work hard to avoid. Which would be the consistent counting of my blessings -and remembering that very vivid, ugly picture God allowed me to see at the right time. It certainly brought me up short and nipped the complaining - for now. For a little while anyway, I have things in perspective.

Colossians 2:6-8
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,
7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gathering Together


A couple of Sundays ago I went to church. I sat and cried and cried the entire time. My heart would wrench at every word my pastor would say at every note and sweet word in the songs we sang. I knew folks could see me. It was impossible to hide the incredible emotion that was flowing out of me that morning.

I did not want to go to church that morning. I did not because I knew I was overwhelmed with my life and I knew I would cry. It did not matter that I could remind myself of how blessed I was. It did not matter that I love my church and the family of God that is there every Sunday.

I simply had hit the wall of how much I could handle and apparently the tears are a way for me to release that pent up emotion I do my best to stamp down. But sometimes - it just will not stay inside.

Monday morning I got a message in my inbox on Facebook from a friend at church who had sat behind me. I asked her if I could print it and she said yes.

It goes like this:

Friend: I was aching to see you feeling so sad this morning. I hope everything will be OK, whatever it is.

Me: Oh sweet friend - thank you! I have been trying to rationalize my emotions all day. I would like to blame it on this extreme diet I am on (Dr supervised), or just being tired, or just the fact that life just seems to get faster and faster. I am trying so hard to count my blessings, but many times I just seem to fall back into being overwhelmed at this place we are in. We are so blessed though! So this just makes me more upset that I am being so goofy!

I know you know how it feels though. Thank you sweet friend. Your reaching out to me means more than you know!

Friend: I've been feeling pretty down lately, too. Every now and then the feeling rolls around and it's pretty strong. Getting up and going to church has been hard for me lately. This sense of being overwhelmed makes me feel like I don't have time for God or the church and I KNOW I need God to get through "this" but I literally don't see how I can physically do what is required of me. If it weren't for the kids, I'd miss more. We just keep pluggin' away, don't we, and God never leaves us... but it doesn't always feel that way. Yes, our blessings are all around us and I have to keep reminding myself of that as well.

Me: I am so glad to hear you say that. Andy does not understand my not wanting to come to church. But I have struggled mightily with coming. And for the same reason I keep waking up on Sundays and bringing the boys in - usually late. They need to be there....and so do I. I am so glad to hear I am not the only one - and so glad to know that you and I both continue to come in spite of it (another blessing - those children!).

Oh and I totally agree with not seeing how we can physically do what is required. But - yes - we will get up and get done what we can and what doesn't - we will not worry about! At least try not to worry about!

My heart feels lighter now. God is so good. Thank you again! So much!



The conversation went on a bit more - but the above portion was what I wanted to share. How many of us feel that church is just one more thing to do? That God is on our checklist and we do what he asks because it is a duty - when worship and time alone in the Word is a blessing and a gift. And yet - it just doesn't always feel that way.

Duty is not a bad thing. Sometimes it is all that keeps us going - and yet - I want desperately to remember the blessings that come from our gathering together each week to worship and fellowship. It is what keeps my head above water! I don't want to forget that - and I wanted to remind others as well. Come on in to the house of the Lord - you will be refreshed. Count on it.

Hebrews 10:24-25
24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Perspective

Yesterday on my way home from work, I was listening to Magic 96.5. They are having a fundraiser for Children's Hospital.

There was a Mom on there. She was talking about how her child had obviously lost hope. I do not know what this child had. I hit the station after the introduction. She went on to say how she would watch him look out of the window and the interest in his eyes had gone. He no longer wanted to watch his cartoons. He no longer interacted with people. He was giving up. As I listened to the hysterical woman talk about her child, I was gripped with certain horror. This is no exxageration. I was horrified.

She had a talk with her child that went something like this - "Baby - you know the difference between living and dying don't you?" The little boy replied, "Yes Mama". She continued, "When you quit wanting to watch your cartoons and quit wanting to get out of the bed and play, you know you will probably die right?" The little boy answered, "Yes Mama." She beseeched her son, "You must keep on wanting to live, because I can't imagine this life without y-."

I changed the channel. My throat hurt. My eyes began to water and I began to cry the ugliest sounding cry I have ever heard.

Oh my goodness. Oh - my - goodness. How thankful I am that my children are healthy. How thankful I am that they are happy and that I am not sitting by their bedside begging them to find the will to live.

My heart is mush.

It puts things in perspective doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Huh....


I was watching High School Musical 3 tonight. Seriously. There were no children in the room either. I didn't watch it all...just a small part. I guess what made me stop was Troy said he wasn't sure what to do. He was frustrated and he went to the place that seemed to give him freedom to vent his feelings. The drama teacher just happened to be in there. She gave him an encouraging little speech and one of the things she said was, "Living out your convictions takes courage."

Holy cow.

I think that it's an amazing thing to hear something so encouraging and convicting from a cheesey Disney movie. But there it is. Living out your convictions and dreams DOES take courage. And faith.

What are my convictions? What are my dreams? What do I think God wants for me right now? This month? This year? This lifetime?

I heard a man on the radio being interviewed. He was the winner of The Biggest Loser. He said that he laid aside his dreams to follow a more practical route to care for his family. I am all for practical...I am about the most utilitarian person I know. But the whole idea of "laying aside his dreams" kind of stuck with me all day, and then when I heard Mrs. Darbus - my mind raced.

Is life too short NOT to find the courage to live out my convictions? My dreams?

Making the vapor that is my life count is expected of me by God. I believe that.

Ephesians 5
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Silver Lining


You know, in every hard thing - there is always a way out. It seems to me that God has always made a way for me to handle the things that I think will be the hardest.

So many things that I have loved are no longer there. I have not considered them much of a sacrifice until the last few months. Probably because I have felt so lost lately.

I loved Mobile, never intended to leave. And yet I did. I loved my church in Mobile, had every intention of staying there my whole life - I loved being a member there. I was surrounded with people that "got" me. I loved singing - it was truly a passion - now, I only sing in the car or in the bathtub. I loved being at home with my children. And yet, here I am working full-time.

Each and every one of those things was an identifier for me. It was how I defined myself. I am a Mobilian. I am a Baptist. I am a singer. I am a full-time mother. I loved each one of those things passionately. As each one was lost, I felt more and more transparent. I could no longer see myself. I felt lost.

I have been so caught up in the hardness of work, or duties at home, of the boys activities and homework that I haven't always been able to see the good that comes from each one of them.

I have made unhealthy substitutes that are not in my best interest. I have been miserable. I put on the happy face. I tell my friends, "It will be fine". And honestly, I am coping. But who wants to just cope?

Last week I stopped by a co-worker's office. She told me about a book she was reading and how God was using it for her to share the love of God with others. In her conversation I heard a sincere desire to serve others well, to love others well. Her words of encouragement were such a help to me. It brings tears to my eyes to think of the life buoy she lobbed at me - probably without knowing it. She handed me this tiny card and said, "Have you ever used these? They are amazing".

It was a tiny little card to write your prayers on. I took it, hugged her and moved on. I looked at that little prayer card for a couple of days. When I went back in on Thursday morning, I wrote a short prayer. "Convince me you love me Lord".

I don't think that little card was anything more than a gentle nudge to go before God with my heavy heart. But I think that small nudge helped me be more aware of things. I realized I truly do love my job. I will admit this scares me a little sometimes because when I get home I have very little left to give to my family. But for 8 hours a day, I enjoy what I do. I absolutely love the people I work with in my department. And we are all women. Not completely drama free but a wonderful group of women. Not many people can say that.

My boys have friends that have precious moms. God has given me fellowship in areas I never expected to find it. I have been uplifted and loved well by these precious sisters in Christ. They have come about me and lifted me up, especially in this last week. How very thankful I am to them! I am loved. And very well loved at that.

Friday morning another co-worker dropped by my office. She proceeded to tell me about God's hand in her life. I sat amazed as I listened to her faith in God in obvious hard times. And how she is content and knows God's love. She knows nothing of my situation. God obviously moved her to come in there. I have been there three months and we have never exchanged more than a good morning or a how are you.

For the last few months, though I have seen how blessed I am in God's provision for me and my family (we have all that we need, we are healthy - PRAISE GOD!) I have felt disconnected. I have felt unattached and that God had left me to drift.

But upon reflection, it seems that God took away those things I identified with, in order to make me see what my true identity is. His child. First and foremost - without question - it is the one thing that is foundational to my life. Those other things mean nothing if they are not based on my belonging to my heavenly father.

I forget that.

I am not through all of this yet. I know I will still flounder. But I am more encouraged than I have been in so very long. Thank you to those friends who have allowed God to use them in such amazing ways. Thank you God for loving me enough to strip it all down and get down to the bare bones of the problem.

There is always a silver lining...I just have a tendency to focus on the dark parts.

1 Corinthians 10:12-14
12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Only Thing To Fear...

I sat and watched show after show last night. They depicted the horrifying scenes that I can't forget from September 11, 2001. That was a day that will be forever marked in history. A horrible thing for the United States and especially those who lost loved ones in that horrible event.

It also made an impact on me. It was the beginning of a very real feeling of being unsafe. We had been invaded by people that hated us - for no other reason than being American. I remember that carved out feeling of fear...of my world never being the same again. I was prickly and insecure about my future and that of my children.

My Mom called me and told me that my Dad had stage 2 testicular cancer and was going to have to have surgery and go through chemo. Again my world was shaken. It made no sense that there was a possibility I would lose my Dad. There were many hours of extreme fear and crying to God for my Dad.

Katrina blew into New Orleans over two hours away from my parents river house in Mobile. When they called me and told me that the river house was gutted, I couldn't believe it. It was a mess. I went down to Mobile on my own and was heart-broken at the sight of my parent's home. I mourned the loss of a place I had grown up. The fact that something so far away could totally destroy my parents home was horrifying to me.

When Obama became president, I was scared. The images that the talking heads placed in my head made it hard for me to sleep at night because of the insecurity that change brings. And he was bringing change, there was no doubt about it.

Commercials even started scaring me. I feared termites and my dogs dying of heart worms and my children getting swine flu.

The economy took a plunge and I feared that it would impact us, and it did. My husband lost his job, and I had to start working full time. Two things I prayed and prayed that God would never allow to happen...and yet it did.

So where does this leave me as I sit and ponder the turn of events in the last 10 years? I am at a hard place. Have been for a long time. And I keep choosing to put one foot in front of the other and to move forward the best I can. I keep clinging to that tiny grain of faith that has been given me and I berate myself for the lack of it's strength and growth.

You probably see a consistent theme with me and it seems to be struggle. I am no different from anyone else I guess. It seems that other folks deal with things better than I do. It seems they look to God and bravely shoulder through the difficulties. I feel like I am wallowing in my fear and insecurities. I don't even recognize myself somedays.

But one thing keeps coming to my mind.

Romans 8:14-16
14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.


If I can believe that God loves me at all like I love my children, then this should be an immense thing to comfort me. Something to cling to when I am afraid. And it seems I am afraid a lot these days.

My prayer will continue to be let me know that you love me like a Father loves his child, Lord. Give me that confidence. I beg it of you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have To Cry....


Crying is so therapeutic. I am not sure why I hate it so, because I feel so much better afterwards. There are times I feel like crying and I don't know why. Except that maybe something in me knows it would just make me feel better.

I haven't cried in a while I think...

But today - I think I just needed to. I wanted to when there was a horrible three car wreck that missed me and the boys by inches - but I didn't. I felt like it after I took my 7 year old to meet his teacher and we found out the car was messed up and we had to take it in to the dealership...just a week and a half after we had to do the same to the other one...but I didn't. I felt like it when I came home after working until 6:00pm, knowing I still had to cook dinner, wash a load of clothes, make lunches, dry the clothes and iron clothes for tomorrow and get things ready for football tomorrow....but I didn't.

I sat down finally at 10:00pm and I watched the last part of P.S. I Love You and cried my eyes out. Cried and cried and cried and cried.

I CANNOT tell you how much better I feel.

But I hate to cry.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Divine Appointment

I haven't thought about occurences that appear to be "Divine Appointments" for a long time. It was one of those catch phrases that got overused and I quit using it because it seemed cheesy for some reason. Not the process....just the phrase.

Okay - since it has been a while...I looked up the definition...because this phrase has popped into my brain unwillingly so many times this summer.

Dictionary.net says an appointment is: a meeting arranged in advance. So Divine appointment would be a meeting arranged in advance by GOD. I have had these. This summer.

Talking in the bathroom to a team mates mom, I got a job - no interview. AND the job is wonderful. I love it. That HAD to be a Divine Appointment.

That is pretty amazing and quite exciting in and of itself...but this next one is so much fun and gives me such hope. And we all know that hope is a wonderful thing. This story has many levels that seem to be focusing toward a single happening, so try to stay with me. I get a little wordy when on a tare...patience please. It all happened like this -

Coming home from Crossville, Tennessee, my husband and I talked and talked about an idea we have for a book. It would be a non-fiction work about our travel through Tennessee. We got all excited as we talked about it. I think it would be amazing. Certainly it was fun to plan it as we traveled through the beautiful country on our way home.


We were planning on stopping in Chatanooga and visiting a couple of our favorite places before catching the Lookouts game at AT&T Field. We stopped and ate at Blue Plate Diner, one of our favorite haunts there. As we were getting ready to leave, a man patted the boys on the head and chuckled and my thoughts were, what a sweet man, when my husband said, "That's Tommy Lasorda". Nah....really? I asked the cashier and she said yes, so I grouped the boys (that includes my husband) and encouraged them all to go say hello to him. He was THEE nicest man. He talked to the boys, signed a Hall of Fame card with his name on it to each one of them. I thought it was amazing that he took the time to shake their hands, tell them to grip firmly and look the person in the eye as they greeted them...made them practice it with him and wished them his best. HOW THRILLING!

So we were buzzing as we walked in the rain to our next favorite haunt, Rock Point Books.
We were amazed and happy to see MoonPie had a nice area there that we had never seen before. So we browsed the books and fun t-shirts and such and I bought the boys an RC Cola and a MoonPie - because really - it is such a rite of passage for a southerner. We sat down to eat and amazingly enough there was a radio program being broadcasted - live. So we got a free show while eating - which was so much fun.

It was David Magee, who is an award winning columnist there in Chatanooga. His show was entertaining and educational and he was truly the nicest guy. He was talking about Tommy Lasorda being in town and how they were going to have him on the show but Tommy didn't have the time. So J went up to him during a commercial break and showed him his signed card from Tommy. He let J, S and G hold up their cards signed by Tommy Lasorda and showed the boys on his NATIONALLY syndicated program. Thrilling for me...because I am such a glory hog. Can't help it - seems to be hard wired.

He signed a book of his for us called, MoonPie-Biography of an Out of This World Snack. Seriously, it is a great book about the history of the MoonPie and the bakery there in Chatanooga. He thanked us for coming to the show and we walked out all excited about our great day. We went to the game, watched Tommy (because in my head I know him now) as he got inducted into the Chatanooga Hall of Fame and whooped and hollered as the Lookouts played their game and lost in 14 innings to the Diamond Jaxx. Still - pretty happy about our day - we headed home.

Now, today I sat down to blog and look up the website for David Magee, I find that not only does he own Rock Point Bookstore, he is THE FOUNDER of Jefferson Press - look what it says about this publishing company - "We specialize in regional books, with an emphasis on nonfiction categories such as history, travel, folklore, and biography."

Okay - really - even if this does not happen - how cool is even the possibility of pitching my husband's and my idea to this company?

It is absolutely delicious. And it is another Divine Appointment. It makes me giggle.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oh how the years, months, days, minutes, seconds....go by


I was talking to a co-worker yesterday and I made a comment about how fast the week was going. She replied, "That's good isn't it?" I think I made some half hearted comment agreeing with her, but in truth, I really don't want it to go by quickly.

I find myself saying things all the time about how glad I am it's 4:00pm or that it's Thursday - but I don't really mean that. Instead I want to enjoy every minute. Or at least appreciate every minute.

It seems that only yesterday I was kissing those sweet baby cheeks of my boys and holding them here at home...and it doesn't do for me to dwell on those days, because I find myself spiraling downward into that funk I seem to get stuck in so often. I miss those days. As frustrating as they may have been, I don't remember that. I remember how content I was. I would like to look back on these days and feel the same way...but I want to make them the best days they can possibly be. I don't want to look back on them and be sorry I didn't redeem the time better. I can't be sorry for where I am right now. God has placed us in this position for a reason. I feel sure of that.

So, my question is, how can I make my few hours at home with my boys each evening the absolute best they can be? Having to work around dinner, football, chores and such and then that precious hour or two where I can just enjoy my sweet boys and husband?

I am asking God to give me wisdom, and discernment. I need the energy to get the things done that I need to, and I need the wisdom to know when to stop and focus on the important things. Looking back and wishing things were different is not going to make it better.

Taking the time out to plan my day and do my best to get to what matters most is my goal. And what matters most is honoring God with my time...living that before my boys, placing it all before the housework and whatever other thing I think defines me (clean house, clean car, neat yard, neat kids (HA)...), because really - it doesn't matter.

Ecclesiastes 1:

2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless."

3 What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?

4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.

8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

11 There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow


And I could bemoan this text and wallow in it and let it sooth me that it all meant nothing...

But I choose to see it as someone who allowed himself to lose sight of the important things. To learn from it and realize that all of these things that I have wanted in the past (clean house, clean car, neat yard, neat kids...(HA) ) really meant nothing. I loved those days of being home and my work being all about my home. And thought they were wonderful - the times that counted were the ones I was investing myself in friends, and in my family. Those days that I sought the face of God and passed some small grain of wisdom that has or will one day take root in their lives. And that is not over just because I am working full time. It can still be accomplished. I just have to keep my sight right.

Oh how the years go by....all of those increments of time - like sand through my fingers...but I am determined that I will continue to hitch up my britches and thumb my nose at those things that would keep me from living rightly before God. Keep on. But keep on always remembering and aiming for what matters most. It's a good question to ask.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I asked for it with fear and trembling. God answered and there was peace....


My prayer has been to expose my sin. Expose the things that need to be made right.

And it was scary. So scary.

Being a people pleaser is hard in that so many times my own perception of myself is reflected in others happiness with me. It is so wrong. But it is my "go to" process. I do it without knowing it.

This process of mine causes undue importance on so many things that are so not important.

I asked God to reveal it - and I said I would trust him through it.

And he did. There is some pain there. There is disappointment in me there. I am sad for this. But I am clean before my Lord and my sights are no longer horizontal...

they are vertical.

Horrid process...and yet there is peace. The Light has revealed what needed to be seen and I do not have to fear anymore.

God is so good. It's not all better yet. I am going to have some hard times. Some really tough moments I feel sure. But my prayer is that I keep my gaze up - tracing the heart of my beloved Savior - walking in his light and trusting in him to give me my worth.

Thank you God. Please let it be so.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Something Great

Do you ever get the feeling you're not doing enough? Maybe you are doing a whole lot - so busy you can hardly think but what does it count for? Is it a clean house? Is it accomplished children? As nice as these things are, I am still not convinced they are enough.

My pastor has encouraged our congregation to step out and do something great for God. Many times. And I still have yet to do that. I have all kinds of ideas but it seems to me at the core of every idea is a selfish motive.

I want to be self-less. I want to do something great that has nothing to do with me. I want to be so emptied of my selfishness that I step out and do something amazing that is totally for the benefit of someone else and the glory of God.

I don't know what yet. But I am asking God to help me. He has been weeding and it is painful - wouldn't it be totally amazing if all of this was preparing me to do this great thing - whatever it is? Well worth all of that weeding.

I really don't like to weed or be the weedee for that matter...but would I consider it worth it if it meant I could accomplish this great thing for God?

I would think so.

I would think so.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This is not what I thought it would look like...but okay

A few weeks ago in the busy-ness of All Star Baseball times two, I talked with another baseball mom in the bathroom. In passing I managed to tell her about taking the test for my insurance certification a few years ago. She immediately told me there was an opening at her job. I said okay like I had to many other people who told me about job openings. I did not take it seriously. I went on about my own business...summertime with my boys.

The next day she texted me the girls name and number I should get in touch with for the position. Once again I shrugged, called the girl, left a message. She called back. She asked me when I wanted to start.






Um








Confusion, disbelief, uncertainty and a flood of questions started jamming my mind. I stuttered a quick explanation of finding child care, and such...and said I would get back with her as quickly as I could. I talked to my husband and he gave the thumbs up immediately. He talked to his dad and my sweet daddy-in-law said they would take the boys 3 days of the week. I called my neighbor and she said she would take them the two remaining and after school during the year.







Huh?








This was so not what I had planned. And yet here I was...about to start a full-time job. I cried and cried. If I started talking about it I cried, when I thought about it I cried. I had hardly any time to reflect though. I told her yes on a Friday - I started working Tuesday of the next week. So fast.

I could not have done much less to get that job. A simple call and here I was, a full-time working mom. But I went in to work and started doing what they needed me to.

I loved it. The work was fun. I picked it up easily. I love the the people there. It is laid back and the folks all seem to enjoy each other. It is not a drama free place. No place with that many people working there is...but all things considered. I could not have found a job that pays this with a better environment. I consider myself blessed.

My boys have been the most amazing part of this. They seem to be so happy and at ease with this new task I have taken on. No one has complained. No one seems to be put out or uncomfortable with this...amazing.

God - this is a new era for me. I am praying that I will walk carefully - that my spiritual eyes will stay open and aware of the needs of my kids as well as my husband. That I will not be too worn out to come home and enjoy my children.

I have changed my thoughts on working full-time. I now consider it a place of encouragement for those who are like me and need to do this. I have always said I have been placed on this earth to make others feel better about themselves. I do not say that feeling sorry for myself...I say that meaning it. If I am serving well by encouraging others in the Lord with my working - then I will consider myself very blessed - and thankful for being used.

And I am helping with our income.

Thank you Lord. Keep me right. Keep my eyes on you....





and off to work I go!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thoughts

Heaven is not a vacation resort. It is where redeemed human beings will manifest the potential and destiny for which they were created--to the glory of God. -- David Jeremiah.


I have thought and thought......and thought and thought and thought about this quote.

I am absolutely ashamed to say that I have doubted there is a God to glorify....a lot lately. It seems my selfishness and my inability to process the blessings that my life has been filled with and continues to be filled with has caused my faith to falter. I cannot go to church without crying the whole time.

And the fact is - I would love to expound upon the list of woes that make me doubt that there is a God, and that if there is, that he loves me. But upon reflection - it is a trite list. It is full of embarrassing comparisons and absolutely brings me to the end of me. And at the end of me every time...there is still something there...it is tiny. Tiny. And I do not always recognize it. I mostly have shrugged my shoulders and moved on for the time.

But I finally realized what it was.

Faith. My hope in the faith that has been given me, is what keeps me going. This tiny mustard sized grain is not of my doing. If it was, I am pretty sure I would have destroyed it.

Matthew 17:20

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."


My mountain is obviously this life that has been given me. It is a blessing. I do believe that. And though it is exceedingly difficult (for me) at times, I pray God will continue to let me see that tiny seed of faith grow. I pray that this person that I have allowed myself to become - will be stronger, will be grateful, will be thoughtful, will put her trust in God...even when things get hard. I do not want to live in fear of the next bad thing. I want to live in freedom...freedom from the fear that clips my wings and strands me in such a low place.

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.


...Freedom will have to have it's own blog spot....but I am looking forward to writing about it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Daddy makes a dream come true...

I love horses. Something about them just appeals to me - I love the way they smell, the way they sound, the way they feel. I never outgrew it like some girls.

I have a sweet story. I wanted a horse more than anything in the world when I was a little girl. I read every book there ever was about them. I never really hoped to have one. I lived in the city and my family was blessed with all we needed but we did not have a lot more than that.

On my 10th birthday, my Daddy took me to the back yard and there was a shetland pony. White with brown spots, a long mane and tail. So pretty. Smelled so good. I named HIM Crystal. I really don't know why. I had him in my back yard in the middle of the city for a whole weekend. The neighborhood kids thought I was amazing. I loved my pony. He was beautiful...and he was my dream come true. My Daddy cried when he had to take him to our friends farm in Hurley, Mississippi because I cried.

I found out later that my sweet Daddy brought that thing home in our stationwagon - his head out one window and his tail out the other. He ripped the carpet with his hooves but my Daddy was bound and determined to make my dream come true. Not too many girls can say they got a horse when they were little. I did.

Come to find out - Daddy didn't pay a whole lot for Crystal. He was OLD. He made it a couple of years, then died. But I have to say - those two years of going to Mississippi to ride my pony were wonderful. That was a whole lot of trouble for my Dad to go through to make my dream come true.

I can't even express how thankful I am to my Daddy for going to all of that trouble to make me happy. How very blessed I am. Daddy's are so great.

God is so good to give us Daddy's!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Doubtful movie....surprisingly good

Funny thing. Yesterday we took the boys to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Now I must tell you that I have never been thrilled that my boys love these books. I don't believe that the fact that teachers love the books because they make children want to read is a good reason. But my boys love these books. Something about them appeals to these little boys...and some girls to be honest. But - they would read excerpts to me and I would laugh...out loud. Of course I would always tag it with - just because I laughed doesn't mean that is the way to behave. Thinking to myself, "Dang! I should not have laughed at that - so NOT adult of me."

Yes the books can be gross.

Yes they are not always very nice.

But neither are my boys.

Or myself for that matter.

So when my husband suggested going to see it - to be honest - I was not at all that thrilled. But we went - it was at the dollar theater. I didn't really have a good argument.

I watched it. I was grossed out a few times. Just like I am with my boys...and myself for that matter.

When the movie ended...I wanted to stand up and clap. Okay - just remember - my responses are sometimes a little over the top - it's a personality thing. But I loved the movie.

I watch Greg and I am totally upset with him, because he reminds me of myself. Oh goodness. I could almost cry from the feelings this kid dredges up in me. But he totally learns the lesson. By the end of the movie Greg makes the right decision and it makes me so happy! He can actually learn to be wise. To make a decision not based on what he thinks will get him ahead - but he bases his decision on what is right.

Now, the fact is, what is right can be disguised - especially this day and age. But he acts out of a feeling that is totally selfless. I love it. I love it. I love it. And I cannot say enough good things about the redeeming theme of this movie.

There was an underlying simplicity to Rowley, Greg's best friend...and it was a beautiful thing. Rowley was a total dork. But he was who he was and really totally oblivious to what others thought. He was kind-hearted, he was loyal, and he did the right thing. He enjoyed his life without worrying what others thought. Such a wise little character. I love Rowley.


So, I have decided to start trying to be more like Rowley.
.
.
.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The cares of this world....

I tend to carry baggage around with me. If you've read back at all on my blog then you know I pack my bags full of stuff and carry it around with me like I want it right there with me - just in case I need it.

I was looking at the picture of the sea snail I posted and just amazed that we could find that kind of life just a few feet from the beach in the shallows off of Destin Beach. Of course I am from the Gulf Coast - it's where I grew up so the Deep Water Horizon disaster has caused me much concern for the beaches and the life that we see there in the Gulf.

Of course we are in the midst of all star baseball and it is full of things I have packed to worry about: sponsors, kids being over-tired, not getting to enjoy our summer (in our usual manner), one child feeling left out, finding time in between to do the things with my business, all of these cause a whole mess of worries I pull out and mull over and over and over.

I find myself wanting to be more like Scarlet O'Hara and telling myself I cannot possibly worry about all of that "stuff" today - I'll worry about it tomorrow. I have always felt she was foolish and she would be the last person I would pick - yet in this one thing - I envy her.

Fact is, and I have struggled with this for quite some time, every day is full of cares and not just the mundane everyday things. Sometimes they are much too big to even see your way around. We found this out last year, when I kept telling myself that my husband's job would be fine. It wasn't. He lost it. And I thought my world was coming to an end.


It didn't.


We made it.


It really was alright.


And I was blessed in knowing that the world would not end. I thought that losing his job was the worst thing (other than things I will not speak out loud) that could happen to me. Truly - it was not. The knowledge was freeing.

I learned something else. To learn to live today. I learned not to worry about tomorrow - because the Bible tells us we aren't supposed to.

Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


Amen, amen.

Realizing something you thought would end your life as you know it, really will not end it - and that life as you knew it might not have been that great to begin with - well - it is absolutely liberating. The way we look at things can make or break a day. Life does go on. How we handle the ick is what we leave our children in visible lessons, once it really is time for our life to end. How we deal with our daily burdens will be passed on to our kids and if we deal with them well - they will know how to deal with the ick well when they have to. This is quite a good thing to leave your children.

So really - the cares of this world are promised to us...we can count on them.
But it doesn't mean that this life is worthless. It actually frees us from being weighed down or surprised when something bad actually happens. It's freeing.

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."


I love the idea of freedom. It is something I am very unfamiliar with. I am a bound woman. I must work harder at leaving all of that baggage behind.

I think Scarlet might not have been as stupid as I tend to think she was.

I will be hashing this out more in days to come.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire


For two years now one of my 10 year olds has worked his fanny off to make All Stars. Each year when it has come up I have been both saddened and happy. Sad because this 10 year old REALLY wants it, and when he does not get it - it breaks his heart, which of course breaks mine. Glad comes in when he doesn't get it - because - well for me, it is just one more thing to do and I know it is always more work for the Mommy than you think. Also - it means we really get to enjoy our summer.

So, this year, he has done so great. He has worked hard and the time came for the offer of All Stars and it was given. Hallelujah! What a great thing...over the moon he is so happy. It's all he can talk about. We made it to ALL STARS

His twin brother did not expect to make it on the All Star team. His batting average was not good enough and though it improved dramatically the last few games of the season we knew he would be okay if he did not make it. And this was my youngest's first year to be considered. We really didn't think All Stars would be an option for him yet.

BUT

Little brother made it. How is a little boy who is the only one who did not make All Stars in his family suppose to deal with this graciously? And now, I will not just be working on 1 All Star team - but 2. And one thing they don't really give you is the amount of money it will cost until after you have signed your name on the dotted line. Holy Cow. It ain't cheap. It ain't cheap times TWO!

So, as happy as I am for the two that made it, my heart is heavy for the one who did not. And when I told him, I could see happiness for his brothers in his eyes, and as I reminded him of what we had talked about before the end of the season, about his stats not being good enough to be in All Stars - I saw the disappointment, and the sheen of tears in his eyes.

But that little boy is a trooper. He rallied himself and congratulated his brothers. We have made sure that he will have plenty of places to go and things to do during these 4 weeks of baseball mania. And he seems to have come to peace with it.

I am so very proud of that little boy. Not easy when you are the odd man out.

Life is so hard. Lessons are sometimes so difficult.

But once again, the lessons little league offers are lasting ones. I would much rather them learn to deal with these issues now than when they are older. Learning to lose graciously, or how to deal with situations when they don't go your way is huge.

Character built early into these little lives is such a blessing. And I have to say the character it builds in me is a blessing as well...as painful as it is to go from busy to busier - I just see it as another opportunity to grow. For me and my family.

Of course I could have said no....probably should have said no....but - here we are.

Now, anyone want to sponsor us?


Seriously.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Inspiration

I am thoroughly uninspired. I mean - I look at my house, my job, my kids, my husband - my life - and I am just - done.

With baseball season and then the Music Extravaganza (end of the year music program at school) and then the stomach flu (yuck) - Room Mom stuff, Team Mom stuff, and countless other easy things that should not be that hard to do....I can truly say that I am to that point that I am throwing up my hands. I quit. And I really have.

Of course I just said last week that I decided to be grateful for being re-engaged. But - this happens - to me - every time. My re-engag-ed-ness kind of overtakes me.

I take on too much. It is not always of my doing. I get most of my jobs from there being absolutely no volunteers and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This year, the teacher catches me in the hall and asks me TO MY FACE - who can say no to that?

I guess my question is - how do you keep this from happening?

At this moment I have a husband that is put out with me (he would never SAY he is - but you can tell - and he has a right to be)

I don't think I can fix any of it. And I can't find the gumption to want to. It is a massive mess.

But thankfully - I don't have to. I will hug and kiss my husband and I will tell him I am sorry for this messy house and my uninspired housekeeping. And I will go to bed.

When I lay my head on my pillow, I will ask God to give me good sleep and to help me break down the mess that is my life right now into small easily accomplished pieces.

It will happen.

I Thessalonians 1:
2 We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. 3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.


I have an example set before me in others. Here I read about the Thessalonians. Their labor was prompted by love and INSPIRED by HOPE in the LORD.

My hope is in the Lord. This mess will get cleaned up. My inspiration does not come from myself. It cannot. I do not have it. I cannot make myself do what I ought some days...but it will be accomplished.

But I don't have to worry about it.

My eyes water and my heart is full when I read:

Isaiah 40:30-31

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.


Therein lies my inspiration.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Disengaged

It seems to me when life gets hard, when I can't control the bad, when things become overwhelming for me, I back out of it. I find a way to tuck myself safely at home and practice avoidance. I avoid other's sorrows, other's overwhelmedness, other's happiness, other's lives.

I don't think this is a bad thing necessarily. Sometimes it is good to back off a little. Finding a way to get alone and delve into the Word is restful and can revitalize an overwhelmed soul. But that is not my tendency. I tend to turn inward and become very selfish.

I disengage from everyone. I turn inward. I lose fellowship. I fall in a black hole. I become sorrowful and I lose hope.

I find that I lose sight of my salvation. I lose sight of God's love and provision for me. I cannot see my way past my own struggles - with the very large and overwhelmingly difficult things all the way down to the smallest of insignificant blips. Everything is hard. Getting up and getting dressed becomes a major issue. All I want to do is sleep. Many is the time I have longed to fall asleep and never wake up. It would be okay with me.

I know this is a chemical thing mostly - and as I have said before it is also a temperment kind of thing - Missy "swings like a pedulum do" (referring to the song by Roger Miller about England EnglandSwings ) I am somehow rigged to go from highs to lows in an unbelievably short amount of time.

The one thing that reassures me in my bumpy, little life is the far reaching hand of God. He pulls me from those lows everytime...and after many, manymanymany years of this struggle - and His constancy - I am sure he will continue to do so. My thankfulness when I emerge with His help is usually found in re-engagement. It is a wonderful thing.

Today - I have decided to be thankful to my heavenly Father that I am out of the depths and glory in the busy life that is now mine - for I am no longer disengaged -

but engaged.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Love Our Little League


You all know we are a baseball family. I love it. The boys love it (the biggest one especially). It is the most fun. It is exhausting at times but still, it is a wonderful experience for us all.

Last night I sat and watched 3 teams play a practice game. It is spring break so a lot of our kids were on vacation with their families, so three of the coaches got together and decided to play a game. Which, by the way, is the best way for the kids to practice in my opinion. As I sat and watched each of the players arrive, I saw kids who had been in class together and played on past teams together greeting each other with smiles. They warmed up together. The coaches would chat with the kids and rough up their hair as they passed. It was a good feeling to be back amongst so many of our friends.

Let me back up a bit. When we first started playing baseball, I had no idea what to expect. As a matter of fact, I was dreading the schedule that would turn me into a "soccer mom" for the following months. The first year was exactly as I thought. A lot of work, a lot of competition. No relationships. We left to go to a game and we came back home. I did not like it, the boys did.

So we signed up again. The next year, an amazing thing happened. We got on a team that understood that competition and friendship can cooincide. Very well at that. We had the most wonderful year. What we observed and learned is that the coaches that were on these teams not only wanted their team to do well and succeed. They wanted the other team to do well and succeed. They wanted every kid out there to feel they had done their best and played with their heart. The parents sitting in the stands would be rooting for a friends child on the other team every bit as much as they did their own child.

This seems like a conflict of interest. To be honest it took me a while to understand what was going on. These parents understood that competition is not just about winning. Winning is not the most important thing. Don't get me wrong, these coaches wanted their own team to win. They wanted it badly. They had simply come to a place where they understood as much as they wanted to win, it was not the end all be all of the day. What did give satisfaction is that the two teams played their best. They wanted each one of these kids to understand that their success was not in whether they won or lost, but whether they did their best, treated their team mates and opponents with respect, and enjoyed playing the game. Though winning is great and it is not a game without competition, more important is the child learning the little life lessons that come in abundance in competitive play.

I loved seeing the coaches from the other teams squatting down in front of another teams player and coaching them as well. I loved laughing at them as they joked around with each other and how when one got tagged as he slid into third, the third baseman reached out, helped him up and checked on him, helping him dust off.

I think the attitude can be summed up in a conversation between father and son as the boy walked up to the plate to bat. "Be a hitter", dad said. The little boy replied, "Be a winner". The dad corrected and said, "No, be a hitter".

Yep...I love little league. So much.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

With the Spring Comes the Storms....


I was at work the other day. Last Friday I believe is when it was 74 degrees and sunny. Beautiful day. Such happy feelings, sitting there in the sun watching the children laugh and play. Glorious. I was talking to another teacher and she said, " Everyone always forgets that Spring weather brings storms". Oh. She is right.


This week. Storms. Yesterday it rumbled all...day....long....


But I loved it. I loved the fact that it gave me an excuse (weak one though it was) to snuggle up and work at home, thanking God for the excuse. No errands on my day off. Just piddling around the house. It was loverly.


It is much like my spiritual walk. I will come to a sunny place. It seems easy. My faith is strong. It feels wonderful. I glory in my salvation. But out of nowhere comes a storm. But I do not snuggle down in them. I don't sit back and thank God for the opportunity for growth. I fall into a spiritual funk. I resent the hand that allowed the storm and ask "Why?"


I need to work on my spiritual endurance every bit as much as my physical.


I hope next time there comes a storm...I will be willing to thank God no matter if it is what nature or life conjures . Flex the spiritual muscles and stave off the funk. Lord give me strength.