Monday, December 03, 2012

Take a Stand

If your kids are grown, do you wonder sometimes if you forgot to teach them something? Something important? While they’re young, time accelerates to Nascar speed and after the blur subsides, you’re left trying to focus. “Did I read to them enough?” “Do they know where our traditions come from?” “Did I tell them not to pour the hot water for tea into a glass pitcher?”
Just this morning, I wondered if we’d remembered to teach my son to stand when a lady enters the room. You don’t see that happen very often these days. Although he routinely opens doors and pulls out chairs for females, I can’t remember if he stands. It’s not crucial, but a symbol of a gentler society filled with respect. I want him to embrace those qualities — and he does. He’s a respectful young man all around. But, does he stand?
Standing in respect. Who else does that? Soldiers immediately come to mind.  An officer arrives, “Ten-hut!” reverberates and men rise quickly to stand at attention. Respect, you see. 
It’s the Christmas season as I write and performances of Handel’s “Messiah” will sound throughout the world. As the “Hallelujah Chorus” begins many will stand. Why? Legend has it that King George II attended the first London performance and stood up upon hearing the line “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Some say he was showing subservience and respect to God. Of course, whenever the King stood, you stood as well unless you enjoyed time in the dungeon. Better show some respect for the British Crown. 
I wonder. Who do you stand up for? What brings you to your feet? A rocking song at a live concert? Touchdowns? Contestants about to cross the finish line? Sometimes, it’s not even a deliberate action. We just spring up. A reaction to something exhilarating. It’s those times when we can’t help ourselves. When something just takes over and we're on our feet.
As I was reading in Isaiah this morning, I was halted by a small part of a verse that might be considered prose. But, God has a great way of focusing a spotlight on words that, if I stop and take time to think about them, I’m always the richer. 
      Isaiah 48:12-13 says “I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens;” and I wanted to stop there. I could picture a massive hand in the sky sweeping across it laying the stars by night and the clouds by day. How amazing would that be? In the age of computer graphics when we visually feast on images in theaters that wow us, this goes far beyond what we’ve ever seen. God is massive. Stopping on that thought alone would have me daydreaming for awhile. But then, I finished the verse. “My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.” (Isaiah 48:13 emphasis mine) Wait, what? 
How can the foundations of the earth and the heavens stand up? Now, that’s a puzzler. Literally, I can’t figure that out, but figuratively, that’s awe-inspiring. The earth and the heavens - all that surrounds us - stand up together when God summons them. I don’t know about you, but that’s a sight I’m looking forward to seeing. When everyone and everything stands up for The KING. 
Now, that’s respect.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Next Time

     The sign said 65.

     My speedometer hovered around 79 mph.  

     You must be waiting for me to explain the emergency that justified the speed. Was I on the way to the hospital with a bleeding passenger? Did I get a frantic phone call from one of my kids?

     An hour earlier, I was standing in my bathroom about to step into the shower when I decided to make a phone call first. I dialed my chiropractor's office. My hips have a tendency to become lopsided (much like my thinking) and they were shifting. I live about 30 minutes from the man who shoves my bones into place. The receptionist said, "If you can get here no later than 9:40 he'll see you. He's got to leave early today." The bathroom clock said 8:55. 

     After a six minute shower, I hurriedly dressed and grabbed the keys. Backing out of the driveway at 9:19, I knew speeding would have to be in order. So, I made a decision. Regardless of the signs, I would do what I had to do to make it on time. Once on the expressway, I made good on that. 

     The whole time I was pressing the pedal to the metal, an uneasiness kept entering my mind. Normally, I'm pretty obedient when it comes to driving laws. Five miles over the limit is about as daring as I get. I give myself time to get to my destination and let all those crazy drivers pass me by. But, today was a different story. I could make it if I just kept speeding. I have to admit, the thrill of pulling into the lot with seconds to spare was appealing. But then, that "voice" inside my head interrupted my racing adventure. 

     "What kind of example are you? Breaking the law." 

     I argued, "But, I never do this. This is an exception. It's important."

     "Oh really? A chiropractor's appointment? Really?"

     "Ok. Ok. I promise I won't speed — after this. Next time." 

     Then, I quickly envisioned a funeral service with my friends whispering, "You know she died hurrying to a chiropractor's appointment. Speeding was so unlike her. I can't believe it. So senseless."

     I'd love to say that my foot let up and the speedometer needle dropped. It didn't. But, I did listen to the voice and also linked a life lesson about faith. Maybe I need to focus on that even more. 

     So often I tend to rush ahead doing what I know isn't the best choice for me. Before I begin, I might know it's a bad idea. While I'm in the midst of it, I'm being tugged by the "voice." As a Christian, I know that's the Holy Spirit who tries to guide me. Guide, not force me. Sadly, I admit to often bartering with God. I'll move ahead promising to do the right think next time. How many "next time promises" have I made? Are they becoming routine? 

       Next time, I'll 
            give more money without being selfish.
               eat the right foods.
               keep my mouth shut instead of gossiping.
               offer to help instead of hoarding my time.
               be the first to apologize.
               spend time with God instead of _______.
               obey the rules.

     Funny, isn't it, how God can hound you with a lesson you need to learn. So like a loving parent. The day following my race car driving, this verse blindsided me. 

      "But I know you won't listen. You might as well answer, “We don't care what you say. We have made plans to sin, and we are going to be stubborn and do as we please!”"                (Jeremiah 18:12 CEV)

     Oh, I made it to the appointment at exactly 9:40. The chiropractor saw me after he played computer solitaire until 9:50.


Friday, September 21, 2012


     I was a Schwinn rider in the 1960s. In those days, a kid's bike was their prized possession. It was used almost daily as long as the weather cooperated. We rode everywhere. Our thoughts had nothing to do with strangers or abduction. We worried about where the gang was and what time our mom would call us in.
     If we cruised long enough, we'd spy bikes parked with kick-stands digging into lawns. We'd add our Schwinn to the group and head for the backyard where they might be dividing up teams for a round of "Cops and Robbers on Bikes." The most coveted achievement of neighborhood bike rides was gaining permission to ride to the nearest drug store for candy. It was roughly 2 miles away and visited frequently by car. But, by bike, without a parent, was a feat reserved for biking legends. I only got to go once but I stood taller than my 4' 8" for a week.
     There were several hills in my neighborhood and I tried to plan my rides so that I descended. The heat of August often found us standing on the pedals and pumping our way up the hill with sweat. Those truly defeated were off the bike and walking it up to the top. But down... ah, now that was a treat. 
     I'd speed up before I hit the crest of the hill knowing the ride down would be that much sweeter. And sweet it was as my blonde hair blew behind me in waves and the humid summer air raced across my freckles. I coasted down the hill with hands free, balanced and loving the freedom. No work involved here. No pumping pedals. No shame of walking. The only threat was hitting a rock and skidding to a messy finish line. Without question - Coasting was the best.
     The other day, I was reminded of coasting. Of how easy it was and how good it felt. This time, though, when I thought of coasting, it brought me guilt. I've been coasting. And I feel the need for speed. I'm a woman who told Jesus she'd devote her life to him. And in many ways, I have. And in many ways, I've coasted. My life is a comfortable mess. My relationship with Him is still strong, but I'm sensing a "coasting" when it comes to others. You see, I serve where it feels good.

I lead studies with women in my church. Fellow bike riders, so to speak. 

I socialize with people who share the same faith and lifestyle. Their kick-stands land in the same yards. 

I've been given directions to the store and the responsibility to show those who are lost. Do I?

I've trusted in his help on the rocky roads, but I've forgotten to encourage others wobbling on tired treads. 

It's time for me to quit coasting. I've just been enjoying the ride. I must be ready to stand when called and face the hill.  The time is near when I'll feel eternity's freedom blowing across me and I'd like to see familiar faces smiling beside me. On your mark, get set...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hidden Treasures

     Sometimes, a surprise pops out of the most unexpected places. Right now, I'm in Florida for a few days. We inherited my parents little patio home and have spent many exhausting hours giving it a good cleaning and face lift. This trip is a quick one to buy replacement mattresses.
     The garage has not been on my priority list of places to spruce. We cleaned out quite a bit in there, but I noticed 3 boxes taped up and sitting quietly against the back wall. I'll get to those another day, I thought each time I saw them.
     Yesterday, I opened the first box and it was immediately clear this one came from the skilled care center down the road. Both Mom and Dad stayed there for the final six months of Mom's battle with cancer that ended the summer of 2009. It was a wonderful place with beautiful facilities and caring people.
     When we visited her, I quietly watched as a female housekeeper tip-toed into her room as she appeared to be sleeping. The lady gently placed clean laundry into the dresser drawer trying not to disturb Mom. Then, as she turned, Mom's arm lifted and she waved her fingers as a "hello."
    The housekeeper brightened saying, "Oh, I thought you were sleeping! How are you today?" She moved toward the bed and leaned over Mom. "I have to see my favorite girl." Then, she placed a sweet kiss on Mom's forehead.
     "Love you," Mom said as the lady moved toward the door.
     "Love you, too." And then she was gone.
     A quick little snapshot of Mom's loving spirit while she waited for heaven. And a memory that warms me still.  It rides beside another memory of perhaps a year earlier. The diagnosis had just been given and my family quickly flew down to visit. On the day of our arrival, Mom was beaming at us at the door. She looked beautiful with makeup and hair styled. The next day, she stayed mostly in her room entertaining us there. By day three, she slept off and on most of the day while I tried to cook her favorite foods to entice her to eat more. She lived on Ensure, a drink packed with vitamins and protein. My favorite memory of these last days happened in a few seconds one evening and she didn't even know I was around.
     I took a tray to her in bed and she sat up smiling at my attempt at love on a plate. A love language she had passed on to her only daughter. "I forgot the salt and pepper," I said. "I'll be right back." The kitchen was only a few steps away and I quickly returned. When I reached her door, I saw her sitting with her head bowed.
     A whispered voice - the same voice that sang lullabies at night, read Old Yeller to me and my little brother one summer and offered sage advice through my tough times - was praying.
     "Thank you God. Thank you for this food that my sweet Wendie fixed. Thank you for my family that I love so much. I trust you Jesus. And I love you so much." I didn't even breath. I felt like I was intruding on an intimate moment. She spoke to God with such love. I backed away from the door silently. It wasn't until I heard the "Amen" that I went in. She smiled at me and I fought back tears.
     So often I encourage people to never give up praying for loved ones to know a personal surrendered life with Jesus. Although she always believed in Jesus, she didn't give her whole life to him until she was in her late 60s. But when she did, it was whole-hearted and she never looked back. She studied, worshipped, served others whenever she could and took any opportunity to tell others to follow Him.
     So, when I opened that box of items from the facility, I couldn't help breathing out "Aww." On top was a little Bible with a homemade cover and on the front she had placed a heart. Because that was where she placed her heart. As I opened the front pages hoping to see something she'd written, I saw the following words:
                   Bought by Bettie Witherbee to carry in her purse - keep God close! October 15, 1997
     Written in different ink:
                   3/2009 Don't carry in purse- but keep God close. I love God!
     Thanks Mom... I see your fingers waving.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Summer Morning in the 60s

     I'm lost.

     When I allow myself, I can fall completely into a nostalgia world. It's the 1960s and my mind is happily consumed with remembrances. It feels slower. Lazy in a good way. People didn't value hurriedness then as they do now. Summer was a luxury we looked forward to in the new green month of May and grew bored with in the August humidity. Our first week out of school held the promise of Pop-Tarts in front of early morning kid shows. 

     Weekdays invited us into the clubhouse of the Captain as he jingled his keys on that big metal ring. He'd hang them up and greet us warmly as Mr. Green Jeans sauntered in to join him. Dancing Bear never spoke, Bunny Rabbit was silent but mischievous, and Mr. Moose created ping-pong ball rain. Captain Kangaroo didn't holler, act wildly or use flashy graphics. He may have been corny, but we looked forward to him every morning.

     On Saturday, my younger brother and I would be the first ones out from under our cowboy blankets and in front of the color console television. Sometimes, the test screen would still be on with a mysterious Indian head. 

      Then came the shows we'd waited for. Tarzan swung through the jungle saving Jane, Boy and Cheeta from elephant stampedes and crocodile jaws. When the mean hunters in domed safari hats threatened to catch Tarzan in nets, he would let loose with a cry to the wild animals who would run to save him. In my mind,  Johnny Weissmuller is forever the wild man of the jungle. Later, we'd stand on the swing set outside and practice our Tarzan yells. My brother was convinced our collie responded, but I think it was more to get into the shade.
     We barely had time to stir our Nestle's Quick into our milk before hearing, 
"Kelloggs, 'The Greatest Name In Cereals', presents: The Adventures of Superman. Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! ("Look! Up in the sky!" "It's a bird!" "It's a plane!" "It's Superman!")... Yes, it's Superman ... strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman ... who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! And now, another exciting episode, in The Adventures of Superman!"

     That was the cue for my brother, blanket tied around his neck, to jump off the sofa landing with a belly whop onto the stuffed ottoman. 
     After making sure the world was safe for another week, we whistled along to the next introduction waiting for the smartest dog on television to lead his boy to a heart-warming adventure.

     By then, the percolator was done and Mom sat on the sofa in her gingham robe sipping Maxwell House. Dad had already downed his cup while reading the paper. He was outside, trimming with metal hand clippers before joining the other dad's in a lawn mower symphony. 

     It was now officially Saturday morning and we hurried to dress in play clothes. We didn't want to miss the kick-ball game or Cops and Robbers on bikes. It was summer after all, and we couldn't waste a minute. September would arrive in a blink. But, until then, we'd fill our days with heroes, shady lemonade stands and daydreams.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday #3

Storm clouds moved past us this morning and now the sun is promising a clear day in the 70's. That's something to be thankful for already. What an odd spring we've had with temps in February that resembled Spring and then back to 30's. It's almost like the thermometer is on a pogo stick. (Do kids today even know what that is?)

Picking a few things today that I'm so thankful for. The first that comes to mind is my one and only son, Josh, who's sleeping away in his bed at the moment. He hasn't been home to visit since Christmas, so my heart is glowing! Our family loves spending time together doing whatever. And that's why I'll be hurrying through the list today so I can get on with the day!

#2 My phone. Love my iPhone. Most do, right? But, today I'm going to the store to swap it because I've worn out my "home" button. Wow. Maybe I need to stop checking on everything so often! Anyway, because I was smart for once and bought the Apple Care, I can take it in and get a new one. Until I upgrade in a few months! Apple rocks. 

#3 This one will leave you scratching your head and thinking I'm pitiful. I only use this when it's absolutely necessary, but when I do, it's nice to have something to make the work easier. I recently bought a new iron - nothing pricey or elaborate. But, how nice to have an iron that glides, doesn't spit stained water on my white shirt and heats up. Oh, and the spray starch helps us appear so put together!

#4 Staying with the Domestic Diva theme here, I'll throw this one in the mix. I'm so thankful for tips I find on the internet. There are recipes I make that call for a tablespoon of tomato paste. Even the little cans are too much and it kills me throwing all of that away. So, I found a great idea. Spray a plastic ice-cube tray with non-stick spray, spoon the paste into the squares and then freeze. Pop them into a plastic bag, place in the freezer and then you have them to throw into soup or recipes! 

Your turn! What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday #2

Well, lookie there - it's Thursday again! And you thought I forgot. Time to show a few more little things I'm thankful for. And then, you add your own.  I really enjoyed hearing from you last week - great examples of what you love. So, take a minute and think of a few more things that make you thankful.

Fresh flowers on my counter! I love all of them, but today I splurged on pale pink carnations. Sigh~

My trusty wind-up solar  Emergency Radio. It has NOAA stations too, a flashlight, and even a port to charge your cell phone. Now, just hoping I don't have to use it for weather!
Yep - I made a lemon meringue pie last night for company dinner. Yum! I borrowed the recipe from a blog I love - My Own Sweet Thyme (She's a Kentucky Girl!)

My Birthday present last month and I'm loving it! Now to find some Lend Me Friends to share with...

What I'm hearing outside right now. "Thump, thump, swoosh!"My favorite neighborhood coach is always ready to shoot a few with the six-year-old next door. Gotta love my man!

Ok, Y'all - Your Turn. Don't disappoint me!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Feeling Blue

I love...I said LOVE to entertain. Now, as far as cleaning the house in preparation, that's another story. Ah, to be loaded and hire that out. But, to plan the decorations and menu and then put it all together - well, that's something that makes my pulse quicken.

I had dreamed of having a Blue Dinner Party. Not blue as in sad. I adore the color Aqua. Like the shade of water in the Caribbean. It makes me happy and I thought it would be such fun to put together an outdoor dinner party with that color as the theme. So, a few years ago, I began planning. Along with shopping for decorations, that was the most fun. I even had invitations printed! A real splurge.

I picked the date, mailed out the invites and then it hit. The most extreme heat and humidity we'd seen in years. Even tough outdoor types were whining and staying in air-conditioning. Sick to your stomach heat. Hey - what could I do then? The invites were out and the guest list was set. So, we trudged on.

The deck above held the drink/appetizer table so they could all mingle there before we ate. Needless to say, they were troupers for sitting in the afternoon sun. I didn't make them stay there long.

Underneath, we moved the patio furniture over to the driveway for later star gazing.

On the patio, we set two tables. (And had the box fan plugged in - what a classy touch!)

I found some fun paper plates that drove the whole decor. I used the versatile white plastic table cloth roll under my placemats. I found the glass pebbles at a craft store and picked up the small vases on sale which I filled with blue hydrangeas. The napkin rings were easy. I stitched some white elastic into rings and then  hot glued the white glitter star on top. A tie-in to the star gazing mentioned above. Being a scrapbooker, I made the place cards with my computer, a stamp, and beach shell cut-outs. The food was on buffet tables  so they could feel free to go back for more. My adorable daughter agreed to make "puffs" to hang overhead along with our patio light strings.
As the evening sun set, the air cooled and the conversation flowed easily. Our guests lingered for a relaxed night of food and friends.

I'm getting a hankering for another Blue Night at our house. I have all the decorations, so...
 now the big question - what date can I pick that won't be sweltering, storming or unseasonably cold? 
Anyone feeling blue besides me?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thankful Thursdays

I've been trying to train my attitude. Anyone else? Cranky complainers are just not fun to be around and I certainly don't want to be a lifetime member of that club. Oh, I can snipe with the best of them, but what a drag. Not only for those subjected to the comments, but for the complainer as well. My southern momma used to say that was just "being ugly." Next thing you know, you feel weighed down and washed out.

So, I've decided to find things to be thankful for. It's really pretty easy. And it's becoming a habit that lifts my spirit, makes me smile and opens my day for good things. There are days when I'm thankful for BIG things in my life. We all have those. Healings, miracles, job offers, sales of houses, etc. But, most days, it's the little things that I'm noticing more.

I'm going to try to share a few of those little things with you blog readers on Thursdays. Feel free to chime in and add a few of your own. You might catch yourself smiling!

Today I'm thankful for:

A free Mocha Frap from Stabucks for my birthday!! Yum!

This cute sign to welcome Spring in my hall bathroom.

Our adorable pal, Woody, who gazes out the window while we eat supper. (Such a good pooch!)
And this tiny silver box that a friend gave me years ago. Just big enough to hold a dainty necklace. (I love the butterfly perched on top.)

Ok - Your Turn!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Just in Time

Many walked by the hill that day as they hurried about their business.They were on the road heading in and out of the city. The morning was slipping by and there was much to be done. They had no time to gawk at those on the hill. Besides, they’d seen it all before.Thieves, murderers and crooks paying for their crimes.
If they had paid attention, they would have watched guards laughing and gambling. Not an uncommon activity. They would have heard sobs from those gathered - not an uncommon sound. They would have seen blood stained crosses holding convicted men - not an uncommon sight. But, they had places to go and things to do. They didn’t notice. Until the sky turned dark as night in the middle of the afternoon. Noon in fact. Was a storm approaching? Should they seek cover? Many continued on hoping to avoid what might be coming.People looked at the sky over and over again. For three hours.
For three hours, Pilate paced in his opulent quarters wondering about his wife’s dream.
For three hours, members of the religious council conferred with each other over decisions made and allegiances sealed. 
For three hours, hiding disciples wept.
Then...a shout from the hill. 
The earth rumbled and shook.They heard the roar as dirt moved beneath their feet and they dodged bouncing debris. They watched in terror as huge rocks split like eggshells. Women shrieked and children cried out in panic. The noise was loud and angry. The rubble flew and dust clouded. Panic prevailed. And then, it stopped.
People stood up, dusted themselves off and moved on.They slapped one another on the back in congratulations.“Praise be to Yahweh,” they said. “He saved us from death.”
For three hours that Friday.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Stormy Sunday

Usually, on Sunday morning, I'm entering my church about now. Ready to see good friends, share smiles and hugs, sing praises and listen to a message that I need to hear. Sundays are good medicine for me.

This morning, I'm sitting at the kitchen table in dim light watching the stormy clouds hang and drift. Nothing alarming - just a little thunder here and there. The dishes are done, the washer and dryer are doing their rhythmic thing behind me and the dog is snoozing on the sofa. I didn't stay home because I'm sick or busy. I just felt the need to be here.

I'm alone. But, not really.

I'm never alone. I know so many women with small kids and busy lives feel that way. I can remember when I was in that arena and thought I'd never be in a bathroom alone. Privacy was a long lost friend. We women are born nurturers and spend most of our waking hours hoping to attend to other's needs. We feel good when we can see smiles and hear sighs of contentment. It's good. Yet, even then, we sometimes crave that time when no one needs us right this second. When we can turn all the noise makers off and hear...quiet.

So, today,with the exception of my canine companion who needs nothing right now, I'm alone. But, as I said, I'm never alone. I have a gentle companion who is always with me. He seldom raises his voice. He usually whispers quiet encouragement to my soul. He isn't a show-off. But, he's always there. If I'm not listening or looking for him, I often miss him. I can forget he's even around. To be honest, I even ignore him sometimes. It's amazing he's still with me.

But he never, ever, ever forgets me. He made me a promise to stick around forever. Even when I'm ignoring him. And I know I can count on his promises. He's not one who says one thing and does another. He's passed the test. Proven himself over and over again. When even my dearest people let me down, I know there is one I can count on. And I run to him. Often, running with tears.

He's closer than a brother, a constant companion, a teacher, encourager, and guide.

He knows my thoughts.
He sees my heart.
And he loves me completely.

I'm spending this stormy Sunday morning with Him.

(John 14:15-27)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ritzy Poppy Seed Chicken

After craving a comforting gooey chicken casserole, I threw this together tonight. I combined a few recipes and also improvised with what I had. It turned out "lick your fork" good. When I posted it on my wall, friends asked for the recipe, so here it is.

2 stalks broccoli, cut up and steamed
1.5 pounds chicken breast, cooked and chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayonaise
splash of milk
3/4 cup shredded mild cheddar
1 t. lemon juice
dash of garlic salt
1 t. poppy seed

1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crumbled
6 T. melted butter
1/2 t. poppy seed

* Steam broccoli and drain. Place in a 9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  Mix the next 8 ingredients and then spread over broccoli.
Combine cracker crumbs with melted butter and poppy seeds. Sprinkle over top.  Bake uncovered 350 for 30 minutes.

I served this with watermelon and cantaloupe salad.  And we didn't need to wash the forks!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spit it Out

"Don't beat around the bush. Just spit it out!"
"Get to the point. What are you trying to say?"
"I'm not following you. Can you explain it better?"

Has anyone ever said that to you? Or, are you the person thinking this to yourself as a friend or colleague goes on and on? I admit to both. And both situations can be so frustrating.

I've been guilty of trying to deliver a hard truth cloaked in lots of words meant to temper the blow. I've waxed on about how hard it is to say or what we all sometimes need to hear isn't always what's easy. Blah, blah, blah. When, really, I should just begin with "This isn't easy to say, but I'm going to be truthful with you." Then, speak and be ready for what comes.

In other scenarios, I've squirmed while listening to speakers (mostly ineffective, I might add) talk a blue streak before ever getting down to business. Nothing exasperates me more. It takes a lot of prayer to keep me from loud sighing, facial expressions showing annoyance and excessive leg crossing. "Get on with it!" I want to shout. Patience is not an easy virtue for me. So much time is wasted on speakers who enjoy hearing their own voice.

But, what about the times I need to get to the point and just avoid it? I don't say what needs to be said, period. I don't wrap it in soft cotton or throw it out there in bright sunlight. It just never gets said. What are those hard words and why are they left silent?

I can answer the second part of that question easily. I want people to like me. Who am I kidding? I want them to think I'm the best thing since Steve Jobs created Apple. If I say that, they won't like me at all. May even avoid me or ridicule me to others. And then what?

What are those hard words? Well, they may have to do with truthful answers to "How do I look?" or "Was I wrong to say/do that?" Friends say they want you to be truthful, but are rarely ready to hear it, so we smile and say the polite things to avoid hurt feelings.

But, what I'm ashamed to admit is that most often, the hardest words to say center around the one who gives me the most. He asked his best friends, "Who do you say that I am?"

Today, this verse got me:

But many people believed in Jesus. Even many of the Jewish leaders believed in him, but they were afraid of the Pharisees, so they did not say openly that they believed. They were afraid they would be ordered to stay out of the synagogue. They loved praise from people more than praise from God. - (John 12:42-43)

  • Did you see what I put in bold? Ouch. My lesson for today... and everyday. How about you?

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ.
It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16)

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth,
I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.
But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven."
(Matthew 10:32-33)

These aren't cloaked at all.
They're straight to the point, yet I'm squirming.

Thank you, Jesus, for being such a loving friend to tell me truth.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reasonable Excuse?

I can get on a soap box about doing Bible Studies. (Did you just stop reading?)

I won't step on it right now, but I couldn't help sharing this silly list I once made to lighten up a class I was leading. I've heard some creative reasons for not taking a Bible Study - no matter how interesting or easy it was. These aren't ones I've actually heard, but who knows - maybe someone will try give one a shot.

Top Ten "Reasons" for Not Taking a Bible Study:
  1. The dog ate my Bible.
  2. Doest thou glean understanding from King James vernacular? I thinkest not.
  3. The side screens work for me.
  4. I don't want to get too spiritual.
  5. I like a book I can relate to: one with action, drama, romance, heroes.
  6. I don't speak Latin.
  7. Those thin pages give me paper cuts.
  8. I'm an audio learner.
  9. I've watched the Ten Commandments and Passion - got it covered.
  10. I can't find the app.
So, what's your excuse... I mean, reason?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Say What?

I love words.

For grins, I just took an online test for the SAT. (No, I'm not going back to college.) It involved choosing the correct definition for various words. Surprisingly, I scored 100% and at the end, a screen appeared saying:
"The average person who scores 100% on this Word List knows at least 11,085 words."

Really? So, why can't I remember them?

To the dismay at times of my friends and family, I enjoy learning new words and trying to use them. To "pepper my speech" with them. Why would you settle for simple words when you can paint such a picture with a great word here or there? Oh, I don't walk around speaking with flowery Victorian language. I'm a Southern girl who loves to keep it easy most of the time. I'm mostly a "Y'all set-a-spell" kinda girl. But on occasion, I enjoy a surprise in a sentence.
  • Dappled sunshine filtered through the tree branches.
  • The clouds overhead were portentous.
  • Mrs. Gotrocks wore a very ostentatious dress to the gathering.
So, there you have it. Three new words to try rolling off of your tongue today. Or, if they aren't new to you, perhaps they just want to be taken for a spin in your speech. Give one a try. You never know when you'll need to improve that 11,085 word vocabulary.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This is a Fine Mess!

After a long day, Mike and I decided to run up the road for a pizza dinner. I'm so thankful for an understanding husband who never gripes about what's for dinner. We enjoyed the thin crust creation and drove home ready to put on pajamas and wind down for the night.

Our garage is on the lower level of our walk-out home, so we normally come in to our TV Room and head upstairs.When we opened the door into the darkened room, we immediately knew something was out of place. A white line was drawn on our dark green carpet. From here to there and up the stairs. At the top of the stairs was our sweet puppy (of almost 3 years), Woody. He always races to the top and waits patiently for us whenever he hears the garage door open. And there he lay looking at us with innocent eyes.

"What is it?" Mike asked as I bent down to feel the white stuff.
"Some kind of flour," I answered. "He must have gotten into the unfinished side of the basement where we store stuff."

Wheat Germ flour. I had tried several bread recipes and stored it away. One of us apparently didn't close the door tightly. When we followed the line upstairs, it continued to the couch where we found the empty bag. And Woody sat by the door with gummy paws and a plastered mouth. He kept trying to stick out his tongue. It was sort of pitiful to watch.

Mike grabbed the vacuum and I grabbed the dog. After washing all the goo off of the outside, I discovered the reason he kept swallowing. The roof of his mouth was loaded with a large wad of wheat flour. We all know that when you add liquid to flour, you make glue, right? I did what any doggie mamma would and stuck my finger in there and dug the thing out.

Within an hour, the house was vacuumed, the dog bathed and dried and all three of us sat exhausted on the couch.  Maybe next time, we'll order in.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

That's Incredible!

Last night we watched a program on the building of the Ice Hotel in Sweden. They build a new design every year and after hosting visitors for a few months, it melts back into the river. Then, they begin again. Entirely out of ice and snow. It's incredible!

And, have you seen the sidewalk art? I'm not talking about what your kids do on the driveway with those big nubby chalk sticks. This stuff makes you dizzy. Your mouth drops open. It's 3D and I am amazed at how these artists can "see" this image and put it on the pavement. It's incredible!

And then, of course, there's my son- the Nashville musician. Yes, yes, I'm a proud mama, but he's got a shot. He's a natural; one of those people who hear a song, pick it out and sound great. Piano lessons paid off, but talent was just part of his wiring. And... he's incredible!

Three examples of some incredible things. Art that makes it hard to believe.
If you break down the word "incredible" you find that it means not credible. Not believable.

The other day, I was listening to a broadcast where someone said the Word of God was incredible. It made me stop listening. Oh, I understand that we use that term now for anything that is amazing or marvelous. And, I've probably said the same thing about some Bible verse, but this made me realize I should never say that again. I believe the Bible is believable. Every dot and dash. It's... credible.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Fill Her Up!

Any of you old enough to remember pulling into a gas station (in your mother's station wagon, perhaps?) and telling the attendant who rushed to your window clad in a starched company shirt that you'd like him to "Fill her up"? More often, I uttered "Could you put 50 cents in please?" Ah, the days of full service complete with oil checks and windshield washing.

This morning I poured my coffee and came down to my office. I usually park on the couch with the morning news before heading full steam into the day. Today, I need to pack. My office houses my wonderful iMac and desk on one side and on the other - my scrap world. I'm blessed to have a whole room dedicated to the activities I love because my husband, Mike, is so generous. The downside (if there is one) to having such space is that it invites the accumulation of more goodies. 

I'm headed to a nearby town with some of my besties for a weekend of scrapping, laughing, munching, advice-giving and chick-flick watching. And most of it could be while wearing our pajamas. I love this event. I've been blessed to be included for a few years now and it never fails to fill me up. One reason is that I'm removed from all things routine. It's nice once and a while to make your own schedule and include only what you'd like to do. Another reason is the contentment of creating. I'm one of those creative people by nature and being able to immerse myself in that is like medicine to my soul. (Apologies to all of you analytical types out there now scratching your heads.) 

The other reason this get-away fills me up is the time spent with other women. All younger than myself but in different stages of life, motherhood and marriage. The conversations can take off in any direction and that's what makes it fun. There is no planned agenda. We've discussed things from how to talk to your kids about sex to giggling over dazed gals gripping scissors preparing for bed. I've heard the musical Grease sung with gusto by girls from the 80's. We all get phone calls at some point by family members "checking in." No matter what takes place, I treasure it. I grew up in a house full of boys, in a neighborhood with boys and with boy cousins abounding. 

Girlfriends - no matter the age - thrill me. Time with them is valuable and I never take it for granted. They may not always be on their best behavior, but their hearts are knit like mine - with the lacy thread only God can sew. He orchestrates these girl get-aways for me. And I can almost hear him saying "Fill her up!"

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
  1 Peter 4:8

Monday, January 09, 2012

Just Too Tired?

“I’m exhausted! I don’t think I can go any further.”

It might be at the State Fair, running a 5K, staying up all night at a Middle School sleep-over or shopping for Christmas when you utter those words. It’s pretty clear that wherever you are, you’re done. Fried. Tired beyond imagination. And, because of that… you quit. Physical exhaustion is pretty easy to understand. Most of us have been there.

Sometimes we’ve been emotionally exhausted too. Maybe through arguments with a loved one. Or trying to support a friend who just keeps asking for more from you. Have there been times when you feel like your emotional tank is hovering over “empty” and you just might be running on fumes? If you’ve ever had small children, you know there have been times when you’re both physically and emotionally drained. That’s when we want to avoid those who need us most and shut the door.

I’m so glad that’s not the way my God reacts.

His mercy is inexhaustible. Incapable of being depleted. A never-ending supply. You’ll never hear him say he’s tired. Yet, he has a world full of children asking for his attention. I’m worn out by a few, but when we come to him, he’s there. And he’s not running on empty.

One of the definitions of mercy says it’s an event to be grateful for, especially because it’s occurrence prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering.

Too many times, I’ve been faced with the consequences of dumb or rebellious things I’ve done. Then, I ask and sometimes beg, and my inexhaustible God doesn’t shut the door and avoid me. He offers me what I need most - his loving mercy. And only with that can I go any further.

You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, O LORD;
listen to my cry for mercy.
In the day of my trouble I will call to you,
for you will answer me.

Psalm 86:5-7