Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Ring and an Honor

I met my husband in June of 1990, on a blind date. Something I swore I would never do, and something he had sworn off as well. As you see, we both made an exception that would forever change our future. It was in June of 1990 that I met his mother, Gynelle. She was in my life for over half my life when she passed away from liver failure on August 29, 2011. Gynelle left her solitaire to Patrick, and he honored me by giving it to me. I had the diamond band that was attached to my original wedding ring taken off and soldered onto Gynelle’s solitaire…something of mine, something of her’s.  It is breath-taking. It’s something that we would never have been able to afford, and it is something that I will always treasure because of the woman who wore it and the man who gave it to me. Thank you, Patrick.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Theme is Chosen, Invitations are Sent

Have you ever been responsible for planning a large event? Maybe a wedding? A reception? A business function that brought in board members or managers?
 If you have, you've probably heard the saying, "Whatever can go wrong, probably will." There are just so many details to work out. Invitations. Who is invited? Who isn't invited? How many are expected? Then how will each guest be recognized or made to feel recognized and special. Will there be registration of some sort? If guests are traveling, are hotel arrangements made and how will those be paid? How will guest get from the airport to the hotel or event location? That doesn't even begin to scratch the surface because we haven't even started talking about food for breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks. We haven't considered entertainment either. Will you need microphones, lighting, and projection equipment for power point presentation? So, will you? Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. And if this doesn't go well, people will be talking about you till the cows come home!

It can be downright overwhelming and cumbersome. This is why it isn't usually just one person planning the larger events…it's a team!
I bet you are wondering where in the world I'm going with this, aren't you? Actually, I'm not going just anywhere in the world with this.

I am back in seminary, and while I wasn't really looking forward to this particular online class, it really has me thinking. You see, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about being a Baptist because I am a multi-generational-Southern Baptist. But I've actually learned things critical to my faith, and I've learned things that have made me ponder. Pondering is what I do best – Winnie the Pooh and I are alike in that way.Currently, in my class, we are studying the Kingdom of God and Last Things (what is going to happen in the end). And this is where I started pondering about the planning of large events.

Think about it…when Christ returns He is going to be taking a BOAT LOAD of bodies up to heaven. In human terms let's work through this, shall we? And since it's my blog, I AM. The souls have been in heaven, but when Christ returns, the dead will rise and then those of us who remain will be caught up in sky. So in essence, you have souls being matched with bodies from since THE BEGINNING OF TIME, and on top of that, you have an influx of new people. What would that look like here on earth? Social security has a hard time keeping people matched with their social security numbers at times. Can you imagine them trying to match the right body with the right soul? If your last name starts with an "A," please stand in this line and fill out this paperwork. Based on the information you provide, we will try to find your soul. SAY WHAT? Then there is the influx of newbies…have you ever been around a bunch of greenhorns? They are full of questions. They don't stay in line. Some wander off wanting to see the streets of gold and to find the Great Throne. Um, ma'am, you haven't been processed. You have to be processed to make sure that your room is ready. Please fill out this form and take a number. We'll get to you as soon as possible. WOULDN'T THIS BE A NIGHTMARE!? I know you are probably wondering, "Why am I reading this?" But hang on. I do have a point….
But it won't be like this AT ALL. You see, God is preparing to have a party of one with you. Jesus went to prepare a place (it says so in Matthew). The preparations for THE BIG DAY are being worked on and made ready even as you read this goofy blog. Next, God's got this. There won't be any lines. There isn't any stress. For where God is there is peace and rest and joy. This will be a time of great rejoicing. Souls won't be mismatched to the wrong bodies. The newbies will have nothing to fear. There is going to be some awesome singing and worshipping and praising God…lifting up holy hands, falling down on our faces before an Almighty God. You will want for nothing. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THAT DAY! (No more tears in heaven. Seeing loved ones who have gone on before me. Meeting people I had only read about. AMAZING!)

On the flip side of this, however, is a very real place called "hell" – eternal separation from God. A place where this skin burns but isn't consumed. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. The smell of Sulfur (like rotten eggs) and of burning flesh. No rest. Extreme pain 24/7. I cannot begin to fathom the suffering that goes on there now and will continue to go on forever. I don't want to process that. I try to put it out of my mind, but maybe if I kept it more in the forefront of my mind, I'd do more about it. I want my goal to be, "When the rapture happens, I want there to be a large group of newbies entering heaven than hell." What are you doing about it? Who will you invite to go with you to heaven, to meet your Savior?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Knows Why Some Animals Eat Their Young

He raises his voice. She whines and whimpers. “You’re so mean.” One stomps off in a huff. The other refuses to do as he/she is told. “I wish I didn’t have a brother.” He whines. She raises her voice and pops her brother (which is probably over-due). He breaks down in tears, and she blows hot air like a bull at a matador. Homework was a struggle, and the ride home was tense. One had a rough day at school, and the other is rubbing it in. This is at the end of the day, and I’m at the end of my rope.


Now, you know I love my kids. They crack me up. I find humor in much of what they do, but there are days that sometime string into weeks that they just bring me to swing at the end of the proverbial rope. There is just so much a mom or a person can handle before the last nerve that the kids jump on snaps in half or multiple pieces, and the exorcist takes control of my head causing it to spin like a top. Can I get a witness?

Let me encourage you, Sweet Parent. Breathe deeply. You are not alone. You can do this without doing irrepairable harm to your precious children. This is what I learned as a child when my mom had reached her maximum capacity of child-caused stress.

When I was growing up, Lori and I knew when we had pushed our mom over the line…she’d use the “c” word… “c-rap.” That was the sign that the end was near. The rapture was about to take place…not the churches rapture, but mine and Lori’s. We were about to meet our maker…normally that meant our daddy. We’d meet our Creator another day. On those days as a child, I learned A LOT about prayer. I remember laying in my bed praying, “God, please let her forget!” or “God, please let daddy work late.” Some were answered. Some were not.

The waiting was so stressful. The not-knowing of what the future held for my fate was intense. It was during these waiting times that I learned just how much stress I had caused because I was now feeling it as I waited…in the quiet. That was the worst. Waiting in the quiet. Not hearing a sound. What in the world could she possibly be doing in the other room!?

On the rare times that my mom did not mention it to my dad or the matter was dropped, I learned what grace was. I learned what it meant to be pardoned. Did I deserve to get disciplined and even punished? Hehehe, I’ll let you wonder. But when grace was exercised, it washed over me relieving me of my anxiety and bringing me to repentance.

When discipline or punishment came, we were allowed to soak in it for a while, but then the time came that my daddy or my mom would come to us, bring us in their arms, and tell us that they loved us but not the behavior we had shown. What did that teach me? That someone can love me but not my behavior and that my parents expected the best out of me.


One more thing, I’m not perfect in parenting. It will be interesting to hear my kids spin on things when they get older. Be careful when you criticize another parent. You don’t know where they’ve been or what they’re going through. Instead, why don’t you pray for them, pray over them…and if necessary, provide your sister a little relief. Trade out. Give her a break…some time to herself. Hang in there my fellow mommies. Hang in there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wonders How Can You Make a Water Buffalo Cute?

There’s just no way to make a water buffalo cute. It’s big. It’s hairy. It slobbers, for crying out loud, and yet this is the mammal my daughter chose to write her report on for fifth grade science class. Of all the mammals in the world, Erin chooses the WATER BUFFALO! I suggested a pot bellied pig. We could put little nose prints on the poster and curly, little tails popping off the poster board for the 3-D effect. But no, Erin had to choose a WATER BUFFALO! And do you know why she chose a water buffalo? Because Veggie Tales has “Silly Songs with Larry,” and he sings a song called “Everyone’s Got a Water Buffalo.” On any given day she will be singing that crazy song as she meanders through life.

So, how in the world do we make this project look cute? Seriously! Any ideas would greatly be appreciated! There are limited pictures on the internet, so this could be a real challenge. There isn't even a picture of a water buffalo in the Veggie Tales song, but did she think about that? PLEASE!

How does one make something that is unattractive into something beautiful? The quote, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” comes to mind. How do you take something that is a big, nasty mess and make it into a tasteful report? I don’t know why this is so difficult. I should be a pro at this because I’ve gotten so used to making my life that can be so unattractive or a big, nasty mess into what appears to be something tasteful. Words I’ve said. Attitudes I’ve held. Lack of faith, doubt, impatience, tolerance and intolerance, and just blatant sin in my life I try to dress up, cover up and march into the presence of God as if I’m just as precious as can be. A sow’s ear will always be a sow’s ear. A water buffalo will always be a water buffalo even if you put a tutu on it. No matter how we dress up our lives, no matter what we present to the world, God sees beyond it to the heart of the matter…to the water buffalo underneath. The thing about God is He created the water buffalo. He designed and created it with specific intentions. It’s when we take the water buffalo out of its natural habitat and try to make it into something God did not create it to be does it (the water buffalo) look ridiculous. Sometimes we just need to accept ourselves as the person God created us to be, confess our sins, stop putting on airs, get real with God, lay prostrate before our Creator and ask Him to purify us, to heal us.

I remember Isaiah 6. Isaiah had been in the presence of God Almighty. Hearing the seraphim crying and calling, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah had been in the presence of God Almighty, and in His presence Isaiah realized that none of his acts, none of his service did God any favors. He realized just how unclean he was. He discarded all pretense, all pride and got real with God, “WOE TO ME!” When was the last time you got real with God? When was the last time you were honestly in His presence worshipping Him and realized just how unclean and unworthy you are? Isaiah was cleansed, and God sent him out. Let God cleanse you, restore you, make you into the creature He intended you to be.  Lay down your tutus, your cuteness, you high dollar clothes, your status, and be who He wants you to be. There’s no other life like it…the one of a redeemed child of God serving and living as the creature He has designed you to be. There’s freedom in it. There’s peace, and there’s joy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Has Been Underestimated by a Boy's Club...hahaha

I was in the fourth grade when I got into my first fist fight with a boy…at least I think it was fourth grade. Yes, my first fistfight. But after my first fight with a boy, my daddy taught me how to fight, and it made all the difference in the world. Some pointers daddy gave me AFTER my first fistfight were the following:
·         Since I was always on the small size, daddy always said if I was going to throw the first punch it needs to be a surprise AND it needs to connect (He said there would be times that a fight might be inevitable, and if that were the case, it would be in my best interest to ring his bell first. I knew better than to fight another girl. They don’t fight fair.)
·         He told me when I wadded my hand up into a fist to make sure my thumb was on the outside. Otherwise, my thumb would get broken
·         Daddy recommended the first punch be an upper cut (This tactic was proven very effective my senior year in high school when I decked a linebacker…just sayin’)
·         He also told me about using my knee and how to pop someone’s eyes out (I know it’s gross, but if you are a woman and you don’t know how to defend yourself, you need to get educated)
·         AND if I am ever attacked by a man, pee on him
These were the rules of engagement I was given by my daddy in regards to defending myself. Those of you raising girls may not agree with his method, but after I walked away with a fat lip and the other boy a bloody nose, he thought it best to teach me some self-defense. Even if I had not gotten into a fistfight with that first little boy, it is wise for girls to be taught some basic defense skills.
From very early on, I’ve been trying to break into a boy’s club in some way or another. I honestly don’t know why that is. I guess because in my mind’s eye when I bow up, I’m the Rock instead of the Chihuaha that I am.  It is no surprise that when I started in fraud investigation that I was really only the second “generation” of women in my field. When I would go into body shops or salvage yards and the men would call me “honey” or “sugar,” it used to make me madder than a wet hornet…until. Yes, there was a day when my boss who was the first generation of female fraud investigators told me to consider it part of the game. Utilize whatever I had to my benefit. So, yes, there would be times when I would visit a body shop/chop shop or salvage yard that I would wear a dress that accentuated my legs or physique. It was a distraction for them. They would start speaking in a condescending manner to me and start “explaining things” to me like I was stupid. Was I? No. And before I would leave a shop or at the end of an investigation, I would let them know just how badly they underestimated me. HEHEHE. I know that’s probably wrong, but I have to admit I did get great pleasure in it. I used to love the look on their faces when they realized they sunk their own boat. My friend Cynthia says I’m yen and yang – fraud on one side of me and then women’s ministry on the other.
As I’ve been thinking about the old boys’ clubs recently for various reasons, I realized that underestimating your opponent can be a serious weakness. I know I’ve underestimated people before and have been caught off guard. Haven’t you?
As Christians, we have a very REAL opponent. His name is Lucifer, Satan, the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 says we need to be sober, vigilant because Satan is our adversary and is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Never underestimate your opponent. He knows where you are weak. He knows how to push your buttons. He comes to kill, steal and destroy. These actions killing, stealing and destroying (John 10:10) requires skill, knowledge and capability. He comes to kill your dreams, steal your joy, and destroy your life. He doesn’t go into take you down without a plan of some sort. When he tempted Jesus, there was a plan. There was a method. Satan can be very patient when it is required in taking you down. He will attack whatever you consider to be a “small” weakness, but he can take that small weakness and feed it. Whatever you feed grows. If you feed your fleshly side, your spiritual side withers. If you feed your spiritual side, your fleshly side deteriorates. Satan will provide you with multiple opportunities to FEED that weakness, that fleshly side of yourself. Will you fall for it by thinking “I’ve got it under control?” Addicts of any sort will tell you they didn’t mean to become an addict. That was not their goal or intention. Bitter people didn’t start out wanting to become bitter, but they fed their anger and resentment. People who are morbidly obese didn’t start out with the intention of trying to kill themselves with food. Lonely people didn’t aim to be without friends and family, but they failed to control their mouths or their own, selfish desires thereby alienating those around them. Something so small. Something that appears to be harmless. Someone who appears one way but really isn’t.
Never underestimate you opponent. Don’t think for one minute that you got this one. A game changer can happen at any moment, or it can happen gradually so you don’t even recognize it.
Casting Crowns has a song called “Slow Fade.” The words to it are below. Please take time to read it.
Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

Guard yourselves, sweet friends. Never underestimate the enemy.