November 9, 2006
I didn't mean to leave everyone wondering about the flood. (And thank you for your prayers!) It wasn't nearly as bad this go 'round as it was 7 years ago, but still pretty tough to handle. Many businesses are working from temporary quarters (mine included). Many homes are being repaired. We have to go to Walmart to collect our mail every day (as if Walmart needs 1 more person in the store!). Still, things are moving along and lives are being put back together.
I'm trying to just get through the next couple of weeks. By the end of the month, my part-time job will be done for the year, and I should be back in my daytime office. I'm shooting to have a peaceful December (a girl can dream...)
Hopefully I'll be back in blogging mode soon. To be honest, there are too many things right in front of me clammering for my attention right now. And the beat goes on...
October 10, 2006
Last month, my hometown marked the 7th anniversary of "The Flood". The one that creeps into our conversations at least once a month (or so it seems), as in, "I'm sorry, sir, but we can't access your old file. We lost it in the flood." Or, "How high did you say the water in your office was?" (6' 8"). Or, "They relocated their business after the flood."
You see, our entire down - and by entire town, I mean the post office, City Hall, the telephone company, the electric company, the oil company, the funeral home, the banks, the waste water plant, and our primary industry which contributes the most to our economy - were all under at least 6 feet of water. I can't even begin to describe it in words, but the images still haunt me. My job wasn't affected, but my husband's was for a brief time. We were blessed. We had close friends who struggled through the loss of a business in their busiest season and at the height of their inventory. Unimaginable. Horrible. Devastating.
More than 100 families lost their homes. FEMA became a household word. Many are finally putting their lives back together.
Through the entire experience was that people banded together. God was glorified. Many proclaimed His Name. Through the struggle, He was there.
Just last week, a co-worker and I were discussing the fact that we'll never stop talking about the flood. Then came yesterday. And now, we'll have to specify which flood we're talking about.
My town is once again under water. The river is expected to crest this morning. Not as high as 7 years ago. But R just called to tell me that from what he can see, our office has about 8" of water. Other business have not fared nearly as well.
Fortunately, we had more warning this time. Most businesses spent Sunday evening and yesterday morning getting everything out of the buildings. We moved all of the furniture, files, and computers out of our office. I'm able to set up shop in my boss' home, and be nearly fully functional. The town should recover in a few months, rather than years.
I'm running on little sleep, lots of adrenaline and coffee. The task is overwhelming, and we haven't even begun. Yet, a song by Casting Crowns keeps running through my head,
My mind is reeling. As the first HAZMAT truck appeared yesterday and the news helicopters buzzed overhead, all I could think about was "Why, God? Why do this AGAIN? These people need to know You're here and that You're good." And the song comes back into my mind.
He reminded me, it's easy to praise Him when life is good. I do that all the time. Now, it's time for me to praise Him to others, even when life is senseless. When His promises seem to be nothing but lies and false hope. When it just seems too awful to be true.
So I'm asking you, please pray for my small area of Virginia. Please pray that the Christians here can serve God as He wants during this time. That we can shine His light in this hopelesly dark situation. That we ourselves can believe He is worthy of all praise...and that we can praise Him and testify to His love and mercy.
He worked a miracle before, and I know He can do it again. I'm counting on it.
October 5, 2006
1. My niece's 16th birthday. Man, my brother is O.L.D. :-)
2. CJ's 8th birthday. See, I'M not so old ;-)
3. Eight 8-year olds in my house...TOMORROW NIGHT! Am I CRAZY?!
4. Two road trips to my alma mater for football games.
5. Women of Faith conference in Charlotte, NC.
6. Visiting with a very close friend who moved away...she's coming to the conference with me!
7. CJ's spending the weekend with my sister while I'm gone.
8. CJ's first report card with actual letter grades. I'm a little nervous. She freaks out when she get a "B" on a paper (wonder WHERE she gets that from!)
9. I'm starting a new Bible study in my home. It's For Women Only, and I can't wait to get into it!
10. Our 2nd annual Halloween bonfire. We trick-or-treat in the neighborhood, then have make s'mores in the back yard. Yummy!
11. One of CJ's friends is spending the weekend with us while her parents are out of town.
12. October 28th...my favorite night of the year. Look at your calendar to figure out why. (Hint: it involves CLOCKS!)
13. Oh, yeah. Did I mention EIGHT 8-year olds coming to my house tomorrow night?! I'm off to buy some aspirin...
September 30, 2006
Mom remarried when I was 3, and her husband has been my dad since that time. I don't remember life before him. He adopted me and raised me as his own. I love and respect him with all of my heart. He's been a good father. But I was haunted by guilt. I was ashamed that my biological father didn't love me enough to have a relationship with me. I felt there must be something horribly wrong with me. Ever since I can remember, I've knocked myself out to please people. I kept thinking that if I could just somehow be good enough, my biological father would come back and love me.
I worked hard to be the star student. The golden child. The parent-pleaser. Respectful and responsible. As perfect as I could possibly be. Yet it still wasn't good enough.
Fast forward to high school. Striving for perfection left me empty inside. Although I knew my parents loved me, I was afraid their love was conditioned upon my performance. (Pressure I, not they, put on me.) I thought I had to make all the right choices, be the right girl. On the outside, I was confident to the point of being arrogant.
On the inside, the cry of my heart was "Won't someone please love me?"
That gigantic need drove me to many desperate places. To many inappropriate relationships. To horrible, disastrous choices. Despite the scholarships and accolades...despite the best performances I could give...I was constantly looking for some to love me. When I was 19, I lost my grandfather & my best friend within 3 months of each other. I was devastated. I had a deep, cavernous void in my life, and I could only think to fill it with other relationships. In trying to use others to fill the vacuum, I found that I was the one being consumed. I was still empty, and I felt like I was vanishing before my very eyes.
I didn't grow up in a Christian home. Although my parents were both raised in church, they both turned away from all things Christian before I was born. I remember going through a period of attending church sporadically, but it didn't last long. I attended church only when I visited my grandparents. I went to Vacation Bible School a couple of times with my cousins. Yet I gave little, if any, thought to Jesus.
I began to curse God. If there was a God (which I wasn't so sure of), I certainly didn't want any part of Him. I shudder to think about the things I said about Him. It's a wonder He didn't strike me dead on the spot.
Then I met my husband, R. I later found out He was a Christian, though he had strayed. I've already shared the story of our courtship. We needed a church to get married in, so we started attending one. For the first time in my adult life, I admitted there was a loving God. I thought that was salvation. After we married, we moved to another church. I discovered that there was more to salvation than believing in God. I thought I made that step, and would be assured of my Heavenly home.
Four years later, during a Beth Moore Bible study, I read the story of David and Jonathan. I was in tears as I read how Jonathan, the prince, took off his beautiful robes and exchanged them with David, the shepherd boy. The prince took on the filthy, smelly, disgusting clothes of the shepherd boy. It hit me...Jesus did that for me. He took all that smut and ick in my life, and He put it on to give me a pure robe! Sitting on my bed, I genuinely gave my heart to Christ that night. And all the guilt and shame, the bad choices, the emptiness...they were all gone! I didn't have to beg anyone to love me anymore. Jesus filled that hole with Himself...and the earthly relationships provide the overflow.
Every now & again, Satan tries to remind me that I'm not worthy of God. This, I already know! Every time I enter a church, I'm amazed that the building doesn't fall down around me! But I take comfort in these verses penned by Paul...for I could have written them myself.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:12 - 17).
To read other testimonies, please head over to Lauren's Bloggy Tour of Testimonies. I can't wait to see how God has brought other people to Himself!
September 29, 2006
I didn't start blogging to make friends. I already have a group of amazing friends. "Meeting" some of you has been an added treat...like putting Cool Whip on a slice of chocolate chess pie. I've read powerfully moving stories, laughed, and empathized. I've been encouraged by you & learned from you.
A few years ago, R & I went to Paris to visit a friend. We went out to dinner one night, and I remember being astounded that this small-town country girl was sitting at a table with people from Brussels, Germany, Italy, Brazil, and Singapore (I don't remember the exact countries, but you get the point). Blogging has been like that. How else would I have connected with ladies from Connecticut, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas, and other points south of the Mason-Dixon? It's been eye-opening and fun. I'm looking forward to meeting you all in Heaven, because the chances of meeting you here on earth are pretty slim. I had forgotten that.
That's why some self-imposed blogging rules are in order:
~ Good-bye site meter. I don't need that pressure of wondering who reads and likes my blog. It was never supposed to be about pleasing (wo)man anyway.
~ Writing will be limited to weekends. I may post them throughout the week, but they will be composed on the weekends.
~ No more worrying about whether I'm on someone's blogroll. God will bring the people He chooses to my blog, for His purposes.
~ I must remember God's purpose for this blog, and stick with it.
~ Blogging will NOT take priority over my family, friends, home or job anymore.
~ I will comment only when I genuinely have something to add.
I have a soft spot in my heart for the bloggers I read. I'm looking forward to meeting them all in heaven for a cup of Starbucks and a slab of chocolate cheesecake (someone tell me there will be coffee & cheesecake in Heaven!). In the meantime, I'm not leaving the blogosphere. I'm just putting it back in its rightful place.
September 27, 2006
My heart is heavy today. A young man in our area was killed in a freak accident yesterday. He was helping in the removal of a tree from someone's yard. The tree split, fell on him and killed him. 25 years old. I know his family, but not well. I haven't seen him since he was a teenager. My memories of him are faint, at best.
Yet I can't stop thinking about his parents and the agony they must feel. Our Sunday School class was just discussing how we'll do everything for a last time on earth.
Wake up for the last time.
Drink a cup of coffee for the last time.
Tell your spouse you love him/her for the last time.
Hug your child for the last time.
Most of us don't know when that last time will be. I'd never thought about that before...not really.
Because if I had, maybe I would've opened the curtains and appreciated the sunrise this morning. Instead, I groused about getting up while it's still dark outside. Maybe I'd be savoring my Starbucks morning blend with pumpkin spice creamer. Instead, I practically chugged it down so the caffeine will kick in sooner. Maybe I would've stopped to tell R how deeply he has impacted my life and that I could never let him know how much he means to me. Instead, I quickly brushed his lips, muttered "I love you" and rushed out the door. Maybe I wouldn't have let CJ get out of the car in such a bad mood this morning, and would have squeezed the stuffin' out of her. Instead, she walked away in a huff, and I drove away in one, too.
There are days I'm so caught up in the menial, frustrating, laborious tasks of life that I don't think about living. Life isn't perfect. It isn't supposed to be, or we'd want to stay here forever. We wouldn't long for Heaven.
Still, we can enjoy our time here. Cherish our loved ones. Be thankful for simple pleasures. Not take for granted that this couldn't possibly be the last time we'll have this person, place or thing. This young man's mother didn't know she would never hear his voice again. He didn't know he would never talk to his mom again. They didn't know the last time they were together was the last time.
Whatever we do today could be the last time. Kinda' makes you think, doesn't it?
September 25, 2006
Things here are a bit more hectic than usual. R's on 2nd shift this week, which means I'm a single parent for the next few days. End of the month means extra busy-ness at my day job & my part-time job. I can't think about what's on the calendar for this weekend yet, or I'll go into full-blown panic mode!
I won't be around bloggyland much for the next few days, other than to read what others are writing. I'm being lame...posting an old devotion I wrote a while back.
When I was growing up, I never liked to play “Follow the Leader”…unless, of course, I was the leader! When it was someone else’s turn, I would quickly tire of the game and want to quit. I didn’t want to go where someone else was leading. I wanted to be in charge.
God chose Moses to lead
This was not a childhood game.
Moses could have been satisfied with the angel God would send to be with them, but he knew that God’s angel is not God Himself. You and I should never be satisfied with anything less than the presence of the Great I AM! The Holy Spirit dwells within us, but I still need to know that God is ordaining every decision I make. If I don’t have a strong fellowship with Him, I inevitably follow my own leading. I may even make some good decisions that will result in blessings and glory to God. But if His Presence isn’t with me, the outcome will never be as great as it would have been. We should be greedy for God’s best. He’s just waiting to give it to us. All we have to do is follow the Leader!
Following God is a daily walk of faith. We have to constantly check to see that His Presence is with us. He may lead us into unfamiliar territory, which can be intimidating and perhaps frightening. Yet, if we are following His instruction, we have this assurance: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). If God has given us the direction, we can be strong, courageous, and unafraid. He will lead us to the destination He has set for us, if we will just follow Him. Believer, there’s no better Tour Guide!
September 21, 2006
"You really like sitting beside me and holding my hand, don't you?"
"Yes. You're my mommy."
"And I love being your mommy."
And with a gleam in her eye and a face as straight as could be, she replied, "Well, of course you do!"
I gotta tell ya...she's right!
I can't think about my calendar for the next few months without hyperventilating! My list is small, and doesn't contain classics like everyone else's. But it's what I can do for now. Without further adieu, here goes (you can click on the titles to find out more)
A Jewel in His Crown by Priscilla Evans Shirer. The first few chapters of this book are amazing. I can't believe I stopped reading it. Life just happened. But I want to know more of what Priscilla has to say. I'm going to start over.
For Women Only: What you Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn. I'm actually leading the companion Bible study beginning on October, but I want to read the original book, too.
Your Girl: Raising a Godly Daughter in an UnGodly World by Vicki Courtney.
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.
Welcome to Wahoo by Dennis Carr. I'll be honest, I picked this up at the local library only because the title intrigued me, since I am a Wahoo. The quality of the book remains to be seen.
Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen.
Divine by Karen Kingsbury.
Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury.
UPDATED TO ADD: A Time to Mend by Angela Hunt.
I've put these non-fiction books on my list because I was actually able to get them at the local library. I'm trying to kick the Barnes & Noble habit for a while. I probably have 30 books on my shelves that I need to read (yet I keep going to the library and B&N!). So, I'm hoping for another challenge in in January...to read books we already own! What do you say, Katrina?
If you'd like to Fall into Reading, click here to sign up!
September 19, 2006
Unlike her mother, CJ has thick wavy hair. Hair brushing has been a typical morning battle because of the many, many tangles. My new hairdresser gave me this tip a few months ago, and I love it! Before bedtime, we loosely french braid her hair (a regular braid would also work). Take it down in the morning & viola'! No morning bedhead!
It works for me. Now go to Shannon's place to get more great ideas!
September 17, 2006
I've given some recent background, but I need to go further back and mark certain points in my walk with Christ that have led me to where I am today. (This will be long, so stick with me.) I've got to be brutally honest, so I ask that anyone who reads this please understand that I'm sharing my heart here. I may take some hits, but I've already hashed this out with God & we're okay.
My single greatest struggle in my Christian life has been to have a consistent walk with the Lord. I've experienced times of great joy...mountaintop experiences where I've heard Him speaking so clearly & guiding me so obviously that I could almost physically feel Him holding my hand. I've also been through deep valleys...times when I've not read His Word or spoken to Him for weeks on end, and generally ignored Him except for church. I was always been in church & I always looked the part, but I was as far from God as I could get. I've been cycling this way for years.
Despite these cycles, I've felt Him pulling me toward women's ministry. I've found some things I wrote back in 2004:
A couple of years ago (2002), I felt the Lord pulling my heart towards women’s ministry. By my very nature, I went full-steam ahead with what I perceived His calling to be. I fell flat on my face, because I was moving in my own strength & not His. Disappointed, I felt I must have misinterpreted His call, and so I gave up. Flash forward to January 2004, I started facilitating a Bible study titled “Believing God” by Beth Moore. Early in the study, the Lord showed me that there are times when He calls us & then we must wait…He has to grow us deeper before He can grow us taller & wider. He affirmed His calling to me, and told me to just trust in Him. I can’t describe the experience, but I made a commitment to Him then that, even though He wasn’t telling me what He wanted me to do, I would follow His leading.This was a HUGE step of faith for me, because I like to know what’s going to happen in advance. I don’t like surprises, yet I had no choice but to leave it in His hands…because He was not going to tell me where we were going. He gave me the willingness and strength to do this. Believe me, He had to do it, because I couldn’t have! Not long after that, He started giving me the devotionals I’ve been sharing. What a blessing that has been for me!
During my most recent struggle with His calling, He responded in such a way that I was completely undone.As He has given me confirmation, I’ve written the Scriptures on index cards. Last night, I laid them all out in front of me on my dining room table, and I was astounded at His goodness & faithfulness! As you know, the Lord told me to write the devotions I’ve been sharing with you. Not long ago, He began tugging at my heart to start an interdenominational Bible study. The sessions will be expanding upon the written devotions. I needed to be clear that all of this was from Him. Are you ready to hear what He said?
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
"Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. - Jeremiah 1:17,19
"I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me, Lord, but only with justice – not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing. - Jeremiah 10:23-24
"But the Lord said to me, “Do not say ‘I am only a child.’You must go to everyone I sent to you and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.- Jeremiah 1:7-8
"But be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you. - 1 Samuel 12:24
WOW! All of these words came after I prayed for guidance from Him.I was not deliberately seeking Scripture to meet my needs. All of these came during my regular Bible reading. To me, there is absolutely NO doubt that He has ordained this ministry. I still do not know exactly where we’re going with all of this.
A few of you started on this journey with me back in the winter, as I began to pour out the messages God spoke to my heart. Since that time, He has rained tremendous blessings upon me, to the point that I can hardly think of His goodness without just falling to my knees. I have been amazed to watch the list of recipients grow and move across the country. More than that, I have watched in awe as He has worked in my heart & in my life. I’ve said this before, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart – this has been the absolute most fun I’ve ever had with Jesus.
Once I decided to believe that God really could do anything, He started proving Himself in ways I never imagined. My nature is to take everything at once and run with it … BIG mistake. I’ve run too far ahead. Not only did I get ahead of God, but R & CJ as well. Thankfully, my Lord has called me back before I left them completely behind. He has impressed upon my heart that I need to take a break...
After that, I was angrier with God than I care to admit. I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels, and NOT being happy with the fact that He was putting everything on hold. Here's my reaction in October:
Even while God was pouring blessings upon me, I began to pull away into my sinful nature & think I could direct my life. I began implementing MY plans for ministry, and trying to accomplish what I wanted…all the while, giving Him empty praise & lying about being okay with His timing.Whenever God would slay me, I would seek Him again…but it wasn’t long before I was back to my old devices. He has continued to be merciful to me, and hasn’t destroyed me.Praise Him…He realizes that I am only flesh!
Last night, I sat on my bed heartbroken. I came face to face with my own deep need for grace. I accepted Christ years ago, but I have been trying to save myself ever since. I have tried so hard to perform for Him & earn His love. I knew enough to pretend that wasn’t what I was doing...but it was only lip service. I was on a crash course…thankfully, I crashed into a loving, forgiving God who picked me up!
So, that brings us to last summer, and how God started to orchestrate the new Sunday School class. In the last few weeks since our class started, He has used my study and preparation time for the class, & other circumstances to put the puzzle pieces together. He's pulling the veil from my eyes, and I'm amazed. I can't wait to share...and that's where we'll pick up next time.
I have a feeling this may be a slow process. But, as I put in a comment to Boomama (who I won't link, because everyone in the blogging universe knows how to find her!), I want to make sure I put HIS words down, not mine.
And if you made it this far, thanks for listening!
Because of Jesus...
September 16, 2006
I'll still participate in those things when I can, but this is an extremely busy time of year for my Southern Living business, and we have those season football tickets. So, there's not much extra time. And I've got to be faithful to what He wants me to do. So, here goes.
I've mentioned before, R & I have started a new Sunday School class for young marrieds in our church. It was SUCH a God-thing! Last summer, I felt Him leading in that direction. I talked with our pastor about it, and was ready to leave the current class I was teaching to start the much-needed class for newly married couples. Shortly thereafter, my marriage was under full assault from the enemy. I'm not going into details about that, other than to say it was tremendous warfare that the Lord alone brought us through. I knew in my heart that I could not teach a class to encourage others in their marriages at that time. So, I pushed it to the back burner.
This spring, I started feeling that same leading. God had healed my own hurts, and gave me a burning passion for these young married folks. He led me to another woman in our church and I asked her & her husband to pray about assisting us with this class. This woman, D., had felt the same leading for a new class! Our prayers quickly confirmed that the four of us were to start this class. So, we did just that on Labor Day weekend. We're so excited about this opportunity (even though CJ asked WHY we were teaching the young marrieds class when we're not young! ouch!). This couple we're teaching with are wonderful, and a little older than us. I know R & I can learn a lot from them, and I'm looking forward to that. I pray that we can minister to the needs of these couples, most of whom have only been married for a couple of years. It was a long time ago that we were in their shoes, but I know God has prepared us for this time. I pray we can be obedient as He leads us, because I know He has a very specific purpose for our class. It's such a praise that He worked all of this out...the circumstances clearly demonstrate that it's HIS doing & not man's.
Right now, we're studying Joshua. God has been speaking volumes to me. Louder & clearer than any time I can remember in recent history. He's asking me to write about what He's been teaching me. And I will very soon. I wanted to give you some of the background first, because it's important to understanding what He's been speaking to me. And it may be that He's just having me write this out for me. If so, that's okay. But I hope it will encourage a few readers, too.
Have a blessed Sunday!
September 14, 2006
So, I was up early (in case you forgot) and even had enough time to program my Mr. Coffee so that it wouldn't blink 12:00 anymore, like it's been doing since our electricity went out a couple of weeks ago. I had to push more buttons than "On/Off". I even set it to brew while I was in the shower. You're impressed, right?
The morning went smoothly. No arguments about getting dressed. No panic about running late. We even avoided our hair fixin' fight (a morning ritual at our house, let me tell you!). CJ even commented that we were leaving the house when we were supposed to! We headed out, she read to me in the car, then we prayed.
It was a perfectly lovely morning.
I got to work 30 minutes early. The building was dark. I was looking forward to putting on my makeup, then eating my granola bar & drinking my coffee (Starbucks Breakfast Blend with Vanilla Caramel creamer, no less) in peace before the day came crashing in.
I unlocked the office door. Put some things in the fridge. Juggled the makeup bag, lunch bag, keys, pocket book & coffee to open the door to my office. You know what's coming next, right? Do I really have to say it?
So now, here I sit with one pants leg soaked. Fortunately, they're black. And no one was here, so I was able to take them off and rinse them. And it's not 123° outside anymore, so I'm not dying with my little portable heater running in an attempt to dry the pants (working better than I expected, I might add). The carpet in my office is brown, so the stain will just blend in.
But it's gone. Every single ounce of that beautiful dark liquid. Wasted. I hadn't even had a sip.
So long, friend. I would've liked to have known you!
September 13, 2006
Exhortation is one of my spiritual gifts. I love to send cards to people and let them know I'm thinking about them & praying for them.
Our church prints out a directory of members and addresses, updating it every month or so. Several years ago, I began periodically sitting down with our directory and asking the Lord to show me who needed a bit of encouragement. The Holy Spirit is always faithful to make names leap off the page. Sometimes I know the circumstance, and I understand why He wants me to contact that person. Other times, I don't have a clue why He chooses a particular person, but I trust that He knows. There have been plenty of people who've thanked me for the card, telling me it came at just the right time (imagine that!). But, honestly, most of the time, people don't mention it & I again have to trust that God knows what He's doing.
I usually don't write very much. I just send a postcard telling the person that God put him/her on my heart today, or I've missed seeing them, or I hope they have a great day. Postcards aren't that expensive to buy (I've found some wonderful Christian cards), and only cost 24 cents to mail. Encouraging my church family (I just have to say it)...priceless.
Now that you know what works for me, head on over to Shannon's to get more great ideas!
September 12, 2006
I was in my early 20's & had just come out of a bad relationship. Well, relationship probably isn't the most appropriate word. But, whatever you want to call it, it was over & I was not...I mean really not...interested in dating. I was trying to figure out if I wanted to change careers and move away from home. Life was just CONFUSING.
During this time, I went to a basketball game. R saw me & asked a friend about me. The friend told him I was H.'s sister (he already knew her) & that I'd never go out with him. Undeterred, he asked my sister to set us up. She politely refused. (I found all of this out much later). Two months later, I applied for a job where R was working. We started working together and became fast friends. I knew there was something completely different about him. I could share my heart with him, without fear. We joked around and enjoyed being together. He asked me out many times, but I wouldn't hear of it.
Finally, 3 1/2 months after we met, he did the unthinkable. He asked another girl out! I was secretly hoping the date would be catastrophic, even though I wasn't sure why I felt that way. I couldn't wait to ask him about it. Curiosity was getting the best of me. So, the morning after the date, I pounced on him. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: "So, how was your date?"
R: "I'm giving up on women."
Me: "Well, if you'd date a woman instead of a little girl, you wouldn't have this problem!" (Oh. Yes. I. did!)
He fell for it...hook, line and sinker. We had our first date that weekend. That was October. By Christmas, I realized it was me who had fallen. We got engaged in March, and married the next year, May 29, 1993. 13 years later, I'm still smitten.
Speaking of that...he's looking pretty cute on the sofa right now. So, I'm off to snuggle!
Years went by. It wasn't much fun to have a toddler always dragging out my toys and putting them in places I couldn't find them. It really wasn't fun when I was stuck at Brownies one night until a family friend finally came to pick me up because my parents had the entire neighborhood searching for her. She decided to play hide-and-seek with my mom. Tucked under the hanging clothes in our closet, she heard my mom frantically calling her name & became too afraid to come out. My parents were too concerned with finding her that they didn't even think about me sitting on the steps at the Brownie shack, feeling very alone and very forgotten. Suddenly, I was NOT fascinated by her anymore!
Then came her "artsy" period. She bleached her jeans, dyed her hair & CUT MY CLOTHES. I could only stay out past curfew if I was picking her up from the skating rink (which I still, to this day, don't understand). She resisted my attempts to mother her (I wonder why?!). She did NOT want to be like me in any way, shape or form. I was the "golden child". She was the "black sheep". I studied. She socialized. I worked. She played. I obeyed (mostly). She rebelled with everything in her. We were polar opposites.
Flash forward through the squabbles, hurt feelings and words that should've never been spoken. I went to college and returned home to work. We both married. She had a son so much like her that every time I saw him, I was overwhelmed by memories of our childhood (just the good ones). Then she had a daughter. Six months later, I gave birth to CJ. And there she was, at the hospital, holding my baby and grinning from ear to ear. I knew our relationship would be forever changed.
"What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"
~ C.S. Lewis ~
Throughout the past eight years, my sister & I have been through a lot together. We've shared parenting war stories. She's given advice & I've listened. I suddenly realized that younger doesn't mean not wiser, and older doesn't mean I know it all. We've fought battles together, spent hours on the phone, and even joked about moving our families to Alaska together. We love and respect each other's husbands. Of course, we're crazy about the kids. And I would lay down my life for her.
The difference in our ages often means we don't share the same childhood memories, so our friendship is largely based on the women we've become as adults. Still, she's the only other person raised full-time in my home. We share DNA and a history no one else will ever understand. It took a long time to realize that. You see, God made us sisters. Then, when we were ready, He made us friends.
September 11, 2006
Shannon is asking us to share our memories of 9/11. I can't believe it's already been 5 years since that horrible, horrible day. I still have a devotion I wrote shortly afterwards, and have pasted it below. Reading it again today, fresh pain washed over me. I still can't comprehend the magnititude of what that day meant for our country. It's truly one of those "where were you when..." moments; the Kennedy assassination of our generation.
R & I had been planning a trip to NYC. On September 12, 2001, our airline tickets came in the mail (we were flying United). Our hotel was in the Financial District, and was shut down for a couple of days. We determined to keep our plans, and so we went on November 11th. Just 2 months after the attack.
I'll never forget stumbling upon Ground Zero and immediately crying. We were going to visit on the last day of our trip, because I wanted to mentally prepare myself ahead of time. But we got turned around coming out of the subway and were trying to find our hotel. I didn't expect to turn the street corner at that moment and see Ground Zero in all its horror. Two months had passed, but the stench still hung in the air. Ash and debris still fell as workers were trying to put the streets, water lines, and subway system back together.
But the most heartwrenching, devastating part of being there was seeing a parking deck full of cars that were covered in ash and rubble. Cars no one was coming to claim. Looking at the hundreds of vehicles there, the loss became real to me. The statistics had been a number that didn't compute in my math-impaired brain. But there were all these cars that weren't going home to a driveway or a garage...
Everywhere we went, people thanked us for coming. I guess my slight (ahem) Southern accent gave me away as a tourist. We went to a Broadway show, and the cast applauded the audience for our support. The Big Apple embraced us with a hospitality which, though not Southern, was warm and gracious...and more welcoming than almost anything I've ever experienced.
We stood in tremendously long lines at the airport, watched as airport personnel rifled through our bags, waited as R was called aside for one of the random passenger searches, and stared in awe at the National Guardsman with machine guns standing guard. And I was thankful, proud to be an American. Friends thought we were crazy to go, but I've never regretted that trip. It was truly a defining moment in my life.
So...those are my thoughts 5 years later. Here are my thoughts in October 2001 (and you know it had to be from God...because I don't think I'd ever read Habakkuk before in my life!)
“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy...I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.” --Habakkuk 3:2, 16Where were you when you first heard about the madness that struck our country on September 11, 2001? I was sitting at my desk, caught up in my daily routine, when I heard of the first crash into the
Six weeks later, the Lord gave me this passage of Scripture which has not just spoken, but shouted, to my soul. I stand amazed at God’s timeliness! I struggled with putting my feelings into words, but He has given me the most accurate description of the emotions that have flooded my heart since this tragedy. He has also reminded me that He is still capable of performing deeds that will make us stand in awe; all we have to do is ask. Oh! how we need to be asking!
Finally, God has reminded me that He is in control. Justice is His, and His will shall be done. Hijackers do not have the last word. Biological warfare does not have the last word. Terror itself does not have the last word. And so, like Habakkuk, I will wait patiently...for I know that My God reigns!
September 7, 2006
P.S. - if you've read any of my posts this week, you know school was a concern. Well, I walked CJ to class this morning, and she turned at the door & told me to leave. I'm taking that as a good sign! Thanks again for your prayers. God is so amazing! A.M.E.N.
September 6, 2006
~ CJ had a very good first day of school. She's going to need some time to finish adjusting, but I think she'll be fine. Last night, R & I felt like we had a different daughter. She was so grown up, polite & responsible. Hey...I LOVE 3rd grade! Thanks for your prayers!
~ Like Bev, I'm also behind in reading & posting. We're still having computer issues at home, which, despite my daily calls to our cable company, aren't fixed yet. This is our third week...and I'm still having to use my parents' computer some evenings to get my Southern Living at Home business taken care of. Still, I've been able to get some much-needed cleaning done, play games with R & CJ, and get caught up on paperwork. It's just frustrating because I need internet for the business.
~ I've also had MAJOR computer issues at work, which required me to work on our company laptop for the past week. That would've been okay, but I couldn't access many of my programs...so I'm behind at work, too.
~ We start our annual fall tradition of going to UVA football games this weekend. We're taking CJ for the first time, and we're all excited about it. The team's supposed to be awful this year, but it's fun to go back to my alma mater & hang out. We meet up with our former pastor & his family and tailgate together. It's a great way to stay connected with them, and have family fun.
~ I'm going to the Extraordinary Women conference Friday night, and will see Sarah's friend Lisa. I'm pretty excited about that, too!
~ R & I started a new Sunday School class for young marrieds last week. I think it's going to be great...it was definitely God's leading.
Well, this is a harried post. But, that's life these days! Hopefully things will calm down soon, and I can resume regular blogging mode.
September 5, 2006
We changed schools for a lot of reasons. Some you might understand, and some you might not. We didn’t make this decision lightly. We’re praying that it’s the best move for CJ. But she’s understandably nervous. So am I…to the point of being physically ill. Seriously. I’m just hoping that this change, which seemed so right during the summer, is really the best choice for our little girl. Seeing the fear in her eyes this morning, I wonder. Still, it’s easy to see that God is already paving the way.
Last week, a friend from church invited her to a “back to school” bash. She got to meet several girls who will be in her grade, and they were happy to give her “inside information” on the school. She’s in class with this friend. Her homeroom teacher was teaching when I was in school there, and I’m excited about that. She even moved CJ to sit right in front of her friend. The principal was one of my teachers. It’s all going to be good. I know that.
So why am I still so nervous?
I’ve always been a pretty decisive person. I know what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. R says I’m high maintenance. Remember “When Harry Met Sally”…the original “chick flick”? I’m not quite as uptight as Sally Albright, but most definitely H.M. Nothing wrong with that, is there? (Please don’t answer that!)
Yet, when it comes to making decisions for CJ's life, I often freeze. Suddenly, I can’t make up my mind about anything. I spend time weighing options, calculating risks, predicting results, determining benefits. Because it’s more important than whether I have enough items in my wardrobe to match that great pair of shoes, or if I look fabulous in this shade of lipstick, or if R will kill me if I buy another Vera Bradley bag. It’s the responsibility for another person’s life. What was God thinking when He gave me such an important job…one that I’m so ill-equipped to handle?
And that’s exactly His point. I can’t do this without Him. And in today’s world, I certainly don’t WANT to. I guess the best any parent can do is to seek God’s will for our child’s life and try to follow it as best we can. Trust in Him to guide us in the right direction. Ask for mercy when we goof. Give Him praise on those miraculous occasions when we get it right.
If you happen to have a minute today, would you mind taking my daughter to the King’s Throne in prayer? Pray that she has an AMAZING first day of school. That she’ll make friends. That her teachers will be kind and sensitive. That her nerves will disappear. And while you’re at it, that MY nerves will disappear. CJ & I will appreciate it!
August 30, 2006
Between a hubby working swing shift, my full-time job, my part-time job, ministry obligations, and my daughter's extra-cirricular activities...well, we are the typical busy family! Back in the spring, I implemented Sunday night family meetings. It's a time for us to get together and look at what's coming up the next week...meetings, projects, permission slips, etc. We discuss our menu for the week & put that on our calendar on the fridge. It gives us a good start to the week, and eliminates last minute surprises (okay...cuts down on them!)
A few weeks ago, I saw another WFMW post about setting goals with your kids. It's inspired me to take the family meetings one step further (further or farther...maybe Shannon can help me!) I bought a 3-subject notebook. R, CJ & I all have a "subject". During our family meeting, we'll discuss our individual goals for the week and then write them down in our sections. That will give us a clear picture of what we each want to accomplish, and also help us to hold each other accountable.
Family meetings work for me. Head on over to Shannon's to get more WFMW ideas!
August 29, 2006
The results are in, and...drum roll, please.
|You Are an Espresso|
At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic
At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung
You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping
Your caffeine addiction level: high
Of course, if you add water (Living Water, that is!), the bold/harsh flavor will be diluted. AND, if I get some sugar (from my hubby, ahem...) and Vanilla Caramel Coffeemate...I'll be as sweet and smooth as can be!
So, what kind of coffee are you? Take the quiz & let me know!
Anyhoo...hope you find this Word as powerful as I do!
“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” --Genesis 2:7
It had been a long day, and I was worn out. Just before going to bed, I felt a little strange. Attributing the sensation to exhaustion, I lay down and tried to sleep. A couple of minutes later, I was breaking out in a full-blown case of hives. Fortunately, my husband R quickly found an antihistamine for me. The itching began to subside as the medicine finally took effect. As I lay there in the darkness trying to go back to sleep, I began to realize that I had to tell myself to breathe. I listened intently to my breathing patterns and tried desperately not to panic. Still, I was petrified. If I fell asleep, would my body naturally breathe? I began to plead with God, “Please let me wake up in the morning, Lord. There’s so much you’ve called me to do that I haven’t finished yet. CJ’s so young. If you don’t mind, PLEASE, I need more time.” I kept repeating that prayer until my body gave in to the medicine and I fell asleep.
The next morning God reminded me of this Scripture, which He began laying on my heart several months earlier. This one simple verse has become so important to me. Can’t you just see God, the Almighty Creator, bending down & breathing life into Adam? The very thought slays me!
Beloved, there is NO life without Christ! Although I was telling myself to breathe that night, it was His voice that my body was obeying. Just as He was ordering my lungs to inhale, He is also calling us to breathe Him in – through Scripture, prayer, and worship. In order to get that cleansing breath we need, we must spend time with Jesus. We can’t function physically without taking air in, nor can we function spiritually without the Breath of Life. Yet breathing isn’t all about inhaling; a complete breath requires that you exhale. Try this exercise: take one deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Before long, your body has to release the air. If we’re spending time with Christ, we should naturally exhale Him onto others.
Lying in bed that night, I wasn’t having a problem exhaling. My lungs instinctively knew to expel the air I had taken in. I had to keep reminding myself to inhale. Dear One, aren’t we like that spiritually? We teach, serve, and minister to others, exhaling without thought. We have to remind ourselves to inhale. Here’s another exercise: take a deep breath, then breathe out as many times as you can without inhaling. I don’t know about you, but it makes me dizzy! How effective are our efforts to breathe Christ onto others if we’re not getting fresh air ourselves?I awoke the next morning feeling much better. God had watched over me while I slept, making sure my lungs were functioning properly. Maybe He even knelt down and breathed life back into my nostrils … a little Heavenly C.P.R., Christ-Powered Resuscitation!
August 25, 2006
August 23, 2006
Barb tagged me for this one.
What was your favorite thing about being a kid?
Summer afternoons sprawled out on my bed, with the window fan blowing full force, reading a book. I also really looked forward to every-other weekend visits with my brother, and visiting my grandparents' farm.
What was your favorite subject in school?
In elementary school, English (I actually LIKED diagramming sentences!). In high school, Public Speaking. In college, Business Law.
Who was your best friend when you were 10?
I'm sitting here thinking on that one, and I honestly don't remember. I don't think I had one really great "tell all my secrets to" friend back then. It didn't help that I lived in a neighborhood with ALL BOYS.
If you could be any animal what would you be?
A polar bear. They never get hot. They get to wear beautiful fur (without worrying about PETA breathing down their necks). And no one minds if they're a little plump.
What would you change about your school, occupation, life right now?
Right this minute, I'd have a clean house. And I'd be thinner. Other than that, I'm blessed with a Godly husband, beautiful daughter, & a wonderful boss. So, no changes.
What's your favorite color?
Periwinkle. I don't own anything that color, but I think it's beautiful (was always my favorite crayon in the Crayola 64-pack...remember that, with the sharpener built in the back?) And don't you just have to smile when you say it?
What's your favorite type of crust and favorite topping on a pizza?
Hand-tossed. Mushrooms, onions & peppers.
Okay, I'm tagging Keri, Shalee, Gibee, and AggieJenn for this one...and anyone else who wants to participate. Just leave me a comment.
There's been a lot of discussion going on about prayer lately...specifically, whether we should pray in general for God's will to be done, or if we can be bold enough to ask Him for exactly what we want. I found another old writing of mine on this subject. I pray it will speak to you now as it spoke to me then (and still does).
We have a “rewards” box in our attic. When CJ’s done something wonderful, been on her best behavior for an extended period of time, or been more helpful than usual, she gets a treat from the box. There are also times that I give her something just because I love her to pieces. Whenever I see something I know she’ll like, my immediate impulse is to buy it for her. It’s a struggle to remember that she can’t have absolutely everything, no matter how much I want to give it to her.
I imagine God feels that way at times. He wants to give us everything we desire, but in His sovereignty He is able to see what we should not have – things that would ultimately harm us, either physically or spiritually. While we may not have every earthly thing we desire, Ephesians 1:3 assures us that God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ”. He has not withheld His blessings from us; in fact, we’re getting blessed in ways we can’t even conceive. All the good stuff He gives us while we are here is just a foreshadowing of things to come!
As much as I love to give CJ treats, there is one large gift that she doesn’t have yet because she hasn’t asked for it. I want to give it to her because all of her friends have one, but she has shown no interest in having it. God also longs to give us certain gifts, but we haven’t shown Him that we’re interested in having them. “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2). If we would believe God and have enough faith to ask Him, there’s no telling what He would rain down on us! Taken out of context, we might be tempted to think that James is telling us we’ll get everything we ask for. If we keep reading, we find clarification. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (v. 3).
God has shown me that it doesn’t matter how much I want something or how much He wants me to have it; if I’m not going to use that gift for His purposes and glory, He will not give it to me. This applies not only to the material, but also to the spiritual. I may pray for a particular spiritual gift, but if that gift would cause me to be proud or self-righteous, God will graciously say no. Though I may not be happy with Him, I am thankful that He loves me enough to save me from myself. Isn’t that what being a good parent is all about?
August 22, 2006
Then she asked, "Has CJ had any chemistry yet?"
Now, I would like nothing better than to say she skipped over that subject & is now taking environmental physics or something equally foreign to me. But, I responded "No, Grandma. Not yet."
I wonder if I should ask the principal to incorporate CHEMISTRY into the THIRD GRADE curriculum? ;-)
On the way home one evening, CJ and I were noticing that the sky was clear and filled with sun on one side of the road, yet completely covered with black clouds on the other. “Mama, I bet we’re going to see a rainbow,” CJ declared. “You know, rainbows come when it’s sun-shining and raining at the same time.” Not wanting my little girl to be disappointed, I quickly sent up a prayer, “Lord, she would be so thrilled to see a rainbow. Is there any way you can make it happen?” Well, I had barely finished when Jesus had sent not one, but TWO, rainbows…much to CJ’s delight! “See, Mama, I TOLD YOU!” she squealed.
"See, My child, I TOLD YOU!”
“Yes, Lord, You did.” I humbly whispered, tears filling my eyes.
CJ never doubted that if she wanted something badly enough, her Jesus would give it to her, without thinking twice. Oh, I want to pray like that! No wonder Jesus tells us to come to Him as little children…as adults, we too often pray expecting to be disappointed. We ascribe human qualities to God…certain that He’ll somehow let us down like so many others have. Perhaps we keep our expectations low so that our pain won’t be as great. If we don’t anticipate big things, we won’t be hurt when we don’t get them.
More and more I’m learning that type of praying does not honor God. God wants us to come to Him as Jeremiah did, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jer. 21:17) When we believe that with our full hearts, we can start to pray like He’s going to answer. And then we get the joy of sitting back and watching Him work.
Are we waiting for an invitation? Jesus Himself gives us permission to pray big. “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14). Perhaps your request seems miniscule, but if God will be glorified in the answer, you can bet Jesus will grant it. He will do whatever it takes to glorify God. Even if no one else saw or cared, Our Father was exalted in the heart of a 5-year old when He set two rainbows in the sky for her. He was exalted in the heart of her mother when I realized how very much He wants to grant our requests.
It’s time to stop praying small. Our God can handle so much more than we ask of Him. He longs to do that for us. He wants us to hear Him say, “I told you so, My child. I TOLD YOU SO!"
August 21, 2006
Jules over at Everyday Mommy posed this question today:
If money and time were no object, what would your ultimate dream vacation be?
I love snow. LOVE IT. Never get enough of it here in my part of the world. BUT I only like it when I can sit on my comfy sofa with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, watching the snow fall, with a fire blazing & the "Singers and Standards" station playing on my tv (IF WE EVER GET THE DARN CABLE FIXED, but I digress!).
So, a 2-week train ride through the Netherlands with stops at all the interesting villages along the way, would be just perfect! If there isn't such a train ride, I'd just hire someone to build the railroad and buy the train myself (since, after all, money is no object!)
Thanks, Jules, for starting this meme! It's fun to see what others would do. You can find out by heading over to Jules' place. The coffee's still hot!
August 18, 2006
When we were packing for vacation, R's truck wouldn't start. Four hours from home and too much luggage and beach paraphernalia to fit in my SUV...well, I was praying hard. CJ was wearing a t-shirt that day that read, "My Dad Rules". I needed that shirt, because after a phone call to MY dad, R can now hot-wire a truck (my dad is a mechanic, NOT a car thief). Dad was able to talk him through getting it started and not cutting it off til we got to a friend's house much closer to home. (We got it home, and he fixed it for $20...yea!)
Yesterday morning, I found water under the washing machine. I'll admit, I've been wanting a new washer/dryer combo for a while. You know, the pretty kind that will actually make me want to do laundry. Our dryer has been limping along for a few months, and I'm surprised the washer has lasted this long. Still, I was hoping to put them to rest when we wanted to, not when we had to. And certainly not right after vacation, right after buying school clothes and paying house & car insurance, for cryin' out loud!
Next, we had the cable fiasco. (Still not fixed. Just don't ask where I am while I'm blogging this!).
Then, R's truck wouldn't start when he was leaving for work last night.
To top it all off, my throat hurts & I'm starting to feel run down.
God must be planning something big, because Satan is certainly trying to discourage me! Or maybe he's just responding to the engraved invitation I gave him. Whatever the case, I'm nearly undone. You see, I can handle the BIG stuff. Illness, death, miscarriage. Those aren't so hard to deal with because I know there's no way to get through it except give it to God. But it's in the everyday hindrances, interruptions, and frustrations that I stumble. The things I think I should be able to control (okay, the things I want to control). These are the biggest obstacle in my walk with Jesus, in my daily living out my faith, in my witness to others.
Does anyone else feel this way?
Even though I felt my world was crashing down last night, God has been faithful. I was able to use my parents' computer to take care of my Southern Living business last night. R's truck started fine this morning. God has provided for us to get the washer and dryer (I would say it was unexpected...but we really should have expected Him to come through!). A friend who's moved away is coming to town & we're having lunch. The cable people are coming today. And it's Friday. Life is good.
In the words of that great psychiatrist, Frasier Crane, "Thanks for listening."