Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Plan F -- The Christmas I Didn't Plan

My table this year that no one will see.
One of the things I used to look forward to each Christmas was going to Patrick’s mom’s house. Gynelle cooked for days. She would decorate her home not missing one single small touch. One year, Gynelle had put a collection of glass trees and a lit chapel on a large mirror that she had painted the edges to make it look like snow. White lights were hidden in tufts of white cotton all around the setting, and the desserts were nestled into the cotton…a beautiful tablescape on her buffet. The table seated ten comfortably, and each place was set in silver, crystal, and china with each person having their own salt and pepper crystal shakers. Dishes full of the most delicious food one could eat. Gynelle had trained and cooked in Mississippi’s governor mansion, and she knew how to cook some food. Her weakness…rolls. The rolls were ALWAYS without exception burned on the bottom. It was truly a feast for the senses. During the holidays, I miss her the most.

Before the house flooded, I had started hosting Christmas at my home. I loved decorating following cues learned from Gynelle. One room had a Santa theme, one room “the gift” room – it has the Magi. One room has nutcrackers. One room is snowmen, and of course, we have our nativity. I was so excited to be doing it again in my home after years of remodeling; I finally had a kitchen that could handle the cooking I needed to do. The things I had requested to be done well before December did not get done until the day of the dinner. Things like cleaning items out of the dining room and finding home for things. This meant that I couldn’t complete what I needed to do until that work was done, but you know, I got some energy and can do a lot in a pinch. But things happen. Things we didn’t plan on. Things we had not scheduled time for. The refrigerator leaked which means the water had to be turned off. Turning the water off meant the breaker for the ovens had to be flipped. This means my double oven used to cook the sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and broccoli and rice casserole was out of commission.

I texted Lori, my sister, to tell her of the calamity. She immediately said we could do everything at her house. While I was relieved, I was also reluctant. Memories and traditions are important to me. I guess that’s one of the reasons I blog. About 9 AM when I realized it would be best to alter the plan, I have to admit I cried. I was angry and upset. When I made the call to Lori, I tried to hide my disappointment, but I know she heard it. Had I mentioned I hadn’t even been able to wash my hair or face?

We moved to plan B…and we moved straight through to plan F with the changes of plan. The fact that we were doing this on December 26th was a testament that we could break with tradition and adjust to meet others’ schedules, but I was tired of adjusting. I told Lori we were on “F,” and she said she liked plan “F” because it was Fine. I agreed it could be Fun. I haul everything to Lori’s home and fix things there. Her mixer was a little different than mine. I had finished mixing the sweet potatoes and was getting ready to disengage the beaters. The button to disengage my beaters is on the top. The button on the top of Lori’s does not disengage her beaters. Nope. What does it do? It puts her beaters on warp speed. Sweet potato goes everywhere, and we have to laugh. There were so many little things that happened in the preparation for the day and in this day that we knew God had been preparing us without our knowing it. An unexplained can of extra cream of mushroom I’d need found in Lori’s cabinet that wasn’t there the night before, and other little God winks like that.

Before all was said and done, we were on plan “G” which was Great. We ate in shifts because of timing issues with the turkey and work schedules and family coming in from out of town. We adjusted. We lived with disappointment and because we did not dwell on the disappointment but looked in the moment to see and to live, God blessed us anyway.

Christmas time isn’t always a happy time. Plans change. Loved ones are no longer here, and we miss them. Unexpected news comes. Things we don’t expect. Things we don’t want. It’s as if we think Christmas time belongs in a bubble safe and sound from reality like nothing bad is supposed to happen. Truth is bad news comes every day. Truth is disappointment happens. Truth is life can be hard during the holidays regardless of what the holidays are supposed to be about. But here’s the bottom line, God is there if you will just look for him. Look for him in the unexpected, in the unexplained, and in the uncommon blessings. Try not to hold on to disappointment too long. Let go of disagreements quickly. Look for God in every situation. You may not understand the why, but I promise you God doesn’t waste anything. He can use it all. Hang in there. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not the train.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Timmons and Groves Christmas Memories

Over the years my perspective on Christmas has changed. When I was young, of course, it was all about the gifts – the more the better. I remember spending time at Mammaw and Pappaw’s house with my family from Texas, and there were so many presents that when all was said and done the wrapping paper was a foot high in the panel-lined den. Some gifts were ornately wrapped and very organized – those were from Sharon. Some gifts were best described as “unique” – those were from Richard and Rosie. The adults would sit around the whiskey-barrel table as Pappaw sat in his chair holding his unlit pipe in his hand while Mammaw washed the dishes by hand at the sink. As we got older, the grandkids took over this chore with Mammaw standing behind us telling us how to do the job at hand. After spending time with this group of relatives, it was off to see my daddy’s side of the family.

Like Momma’s side, daddy’s parents had three kids, but for some reason it always seemed like there were so many more of us on the Timmons’s side. I remember occasionally they had a medium tree in the corner, but most years it was a small tree that sat on the table in front of the window. The fake logs turning on and off warming the room when necessary, and the picture that hung over the sofa of the two sisters playing musical instruments. I always loved that picture. It was time to eat AGAIN, and if I was going to eat, I was going for two things – squirrel and dumplings and chocolate pie. I used to love me some squirrel and dumplings…until. Until the Christmas I was eagerly plunging the ladle into the dumpling and pouring the contents on my plate to discover the skull of the squirrel. I haven’t eaten a squirrel since. At the Timmons get-together, we each received one gift. Most of the time I got socks, a scarf or kitchen towel. Simple gifts from my grandparents. I never got over how many people we could squeeze into their small living area. I’m sure it was a fire code violation, but it was fun. Every Christmas all the grandkids took a picture together. I wonder where those are. They are probably best left hidden.

I don’t remember too many of the times of opening gifts at home with my family, but we have the pictures to show the mayhem and chaos of Santa Clause.

It wasn’t until about the sixth grade that the gifts started losing their luster. I didn’t get as many because the things I wanted cost more. There wasn’t as many surprises either when you hand-select the items you really want. It was a little disillusioning and disheartening at the same time.

It took me a couple of years to find my joy in Christmas again. It had always been there. It had never gone away. It was the thing I looked forward to every year. It was spending time with my family. Whether it was beating Peter in Othello (because that never gets old), counting Pappaw’s hot peppers in the hot sauce, or trying to find a place to sit at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, it was seeing their faces, listening to their voices, spending time with them and making memories.

Now I’m a mom, and we’ve gone through the gift mania phase, and our kids are getting to the age where they are starting to see there is a reason for traditions. There is a reason why we celebrate Christmas, and it isn’t the presents. There is a reason why we spend time with family. The reason is because these are some of the richest blessings God gives us. Whether we’re making a spontaneous trip to Marshall singing carols all the way stopping only to ooh and aahh at the Christmas lights, visiting the Rose Center and eating at IHOP afterwards, going to Natchitoches to see the Christmas lights or staying home watching movies and spending time with family, these are the gifts that cannot be wrapped and put under a tree.

I encourage you to count your blessings this year. Cousins grow up, and we all age. People move far away, and we don’t see each other as often as did. And there are loved ones who have gone to heaven. Cherish the moments you are given. Don’t take any of it for granted because there is someone in this world who would love to have a little of what you have.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and to my family, my cousins, aunts and uncles, thanks for the memories and Feliz Navidad.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Timmons Clan Warped Sense of Humor...I think God has a sense of humor too

My family has a warped sense of humor. When Lori and I were living at home when guys would call, we knew they were serious if they continued to call back because they never knew what to expect. One time when my then boyfriend, now husband called, Lori answered the phone. She told Patrick he would have to call back to see if I would answer the phone because she could not transfer the call. (We only had one phone line.) He called back. And who answered? Why, Lori, of course. She told him the same thing and hung up on him. He called back. I think I got the phone from Lori about his fifth try. That is the kind of warpedness we exhibit and that’s to the people we know! One time Lori, Daddy and I were out in public together unchapperoned and  we decided to start staring up in the sky and see what happened especially when one of us would walk off. It was hilarious! There were people who would walk by looking up to see what we were looking at. There were several that stopped and then we left them standing there looking up at nothing. Why? Because we could. Dorky? Yes. Entertaining? To us, most definitely!
What brought this last story to my recollection is that I’m reading Acts right now. I think by far it is the most action-packed book of the Bible. In chapter one Luke writes about the last moments Christ spent here on Earth before ascending. Verse 10 says, “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.” Think about it…A group of believers are seeing the most amazing thing. Jesus is ascending into heaven like watching the plane take off with a loved one. You watch till it disappears. While the believers are still standing there looking up, open mouthed, angels appear suddenly beside them. Have you ever been so startled by someone who has sidled up to you without you knowing it? I think this would have been hilarious to see. I know I would have been jumping out of my skin. The angels were there to remind them of what Jesus had told them. My paraphrase, “Why are you staring gaped mouth? He’s coming back the same way he left. Close your mouth.” Does anyone else see humor in this? I think God did. I wonder if God said, “Hey, watch them jump out of their skin!” I know it’s odd to think about these things, but it helps me to see the people in the Bible as real and not just someone in a book.
Right before Jesus ascended his followers asked him when he would return again, when was he going to restore the kingdom of Israel. Jesus told them in verse 7, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Basically, it’s none of our business to know when the world as we know it will come to an end. We are to live each day as if it were our last operating in the Spirit and following his direction. We aren’t to be standing around, looking up at the sky, gaped-mouth waiting for him to return. We are to be about our Father’s business. So people…get busy!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mayan Calendar -- The Sky Is Falling...

WOW! Tomorrow’s the BIG DAY! December 21, 2012! My daddy’s birthday! Happy Birthday, daddy! What? You think I was going to write the end of the world? In truth, I was browsing the internet on the whole world coming to an end on December 21, 2012, and it prompted my wondering mind to wonder.

                                  How would I live differently if I believed the world was coming to an end?
                                 How would I live believing the apocalypse was happening tomorrow?

                         Would I eat whatever I wanted not fearing the consequences of the calories or cholesterol?

 Would I go on a shopping binge and spend money I don’t have because let’s face it, I wouldn’t be here to foot the bill.

Would I search for long lost friends and loved one? Would I say whatever was on my mind to whoever crossed my path?

Really December 21, 2012, is the end of the Mayan calendar. A new era begins on December 21st. There will be parties of all sorts in countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. People are asked to show up very early that morning wearing all white and carrying a white candle. Now, I have to tell you I’m not into the big crowds, but I would love to see that scene. Crowds of people standing in the dark wearing all white holding white candles…I wonder if there will be anything like that in heaven? The mass donned in white raising their voices in worship and praise holding their lit candles (although in heaven we won’t need candles, but I won’t belabor that point). Fields and mountains covered with people wearing white praising God. That’s where I would want to be if I were expecting the world to end. Raising my hands in worship, singing Hallelujah! And waiting in anticipation of his coming surrounded by my family and friends.

There are some days more than others that I’m so ready for it to happen. When I hear of kids being life flighted to hospitals, friends battling cancer and the awful effects of chemo, atrocities being committed on human beings by human beings…I just wonder when enough will be enough.

Truth is the Bible says in Matthew 24:36 that no one knows when the Lord will return, and Matthew 24:42 says we should always be watching for his return. Reminds me of the song title Live Like You Are Dying.

Does this mean I’m going to go buy an all white wardrobe? NOT. What it does mean is that we should live not expecting to be here tomorrow, but instead we live thinking we are entitled to tomorrow, to the next breath.

Seize today and every day as if it is your last. Mend fences while you can. Love on those who don’t deserve it and need it the most. Leave a legacy and a path that others will want to follow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's No Wonder Why We're Exhausted!

We as women have many titles: aunt, daughter, grandmother, niece, sister, employer, employee, caretaker, friend, leader, and mom. Under the title of mom is another list of titles – cook, laundress, referee, coach, teacher, cheerleader, account manager, personal shopper, chauffeur, nurse, and the list goes on and on.

As women, we have to deal with issues in our lives. Issues that we go to bed with at night and pick up in the morning. Issues that grow heavier and heavier as the day progresses. We deal with issues like cancer, infertility, abortion, infidelity, bankruptcy, foreclosure, pornography, abuse, neglect, addiction, over-eating, anorexia, bulimia, over spending, unemployment, neglect, health issues. Some of these issues we hide because of shame and embarrassment, and as long as we keep them hidden, Satan will continue to use them against us.

As women we have labels, issues and we have external sources that prevent us from finding a moment of rest. There’s the news, newspaper, radio, television, IPod, IPod, ITunes, DSI, Xbox, MP3. There are plenty of things that divert our attention.

Then if all these things aren’t enough, let’s through them into our daily routines: alarm goes off, wake up spouse and kids, fix breakfast, fix lunch, get ready for the day, throw supper in the crock pot, go to work, meetings at work, extracurricular activities for the kids, business functions, church meetings, school programs, gifts to buy and wrap, food to cook for the holidays, hair to color, nails to paint, and the list goes on and on.

Even when we sit down, we’re multi-tasking – folding clothes, listening for the buzzer in the kitchen, calling out spelling words to Erin, helping Pearce with his math facts.

Some days there just isn’t enough Calgon in the world to undo all the kinks and knots I have going on in my neck, back and shoulders.

A moment of rest?…Yes, I’d like to have a Moment of Rest with a side of Peace and Quiet, please.


Psalm 34:8, Taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. When I think of refuge, I think of three words: Open, Welcome, Safe.

Open. In order to have refuge from a storm, you have to be able to get into a building. The building isn’t a refuge unless you can enter it. You aren’t adequately covered. In order for someone or something to be a refuge, they have to be open. Do you remember the commercial with Tom Bodet saying, “We’ll keep the lights on?” He was saying we are always open, and we are waiting on you. God is like that. Psalm 121:4 says, indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. You have insomnia? Great. What a perfect time to talk to God. He’s always open.

Welcome. Just because a place is open doesn’t mean that you are welcomed there. Every good southern woman knows that when you entertain or host, you have to have good food and plenty of it. They also know that you greet your guest at the door, show them in, introduce them to some other guest, and the direct them to the food. Southern hospitality – there’s nothing like it. God invites us in to taste and see. He invites us in. He welcomes us with open arms.

Safety. Psalm 121 talks about how God protects. Psalm 139 says he hems us in from the front and the back and has laid out our days before us. God didn’t make the sacrifice of his only Son’s perfect life just to destroy you now…not that we don’t deserve it. But Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to give you a hope and a future, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.”

It is in God, our safe refuge, that we can find peace and can find rest. You want to know the reason why we don’t have those things? We aren’t seeking God first. It’s our stubbornness, our pride, our shame that gets in the way of us finding peace. Satan will feed you every lie in the book to keep you from God. It’s time you kicked Satan to the curb in Jesus’ name, and then run to Jesus.

He can be your open, welcoming, safe refuge. You can have peace. You can have rest. The question is, Are you willing to lay down the labels, the titles, the issues, the eternal sources of distraction, and the agendas to pursue God first?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Chocolate and Love Letters

When my son (who is fortunate to be 8) was about 3 years old, I opened the back door and let him go play outside. Outside waiting for him was his second momma, a dog named Kelly. She was a Shepherd-Chow-Heeler mix. Herding was her nature, and if the kids did anything out of line or that she didn’t like, she would bark at them until they stopped. This particular time I didn’t get to the backyard in time, so Pearce came inside. Around his beautiful, little mouth was a dark rim, and there was something dark on his shirt. I confess the first thing I thought of was, This boy has found my stash of chocolate! Putting my hands on my knees, I leaned down so I would be face-to-face with this precious child. Pearce, have you been eating chocolate? He grinned. No ma’am. I haven’t eaten any chocolate. It was about this time that I saw the darkness on his tongue and caught a whiff of his breath and knew he was telling me the truth. Remember, he had just come in from the backyard where the dog was. What have you been doing? I asked. Making snowballs. Pearce, it’s April. There’s no snow. He grinned again. I know! I used mud and pretended it was snow. About now I’m starting to freak out, but before I do, I’m able to ask, Pearce, did you like it? He said, No ma’am. I’m not going to eat that again. Thank you, Jesus, for small miracles.

Psalm 34:8 says, Taste and see that the Lord is good. By digging deeper in the Word of God, you see this is an invitation for you to try God, to explore who He is and what He does in the lives of those He loves. Unlike the mud that my son ate, you will find that God’s Word is good. It is his love letter to us. Love letters are becoming a lost art. Now that we have texting, Facebook, Facetime, and instant messages, the art of writing a love letter is being lost. I think of women in my Mammaw’s generation. My Pappaw was a cook in the Navy during WWII. Women with spouses and boyfriends fighting in the war would receive love letters. They would pour over these letters. Reread the letters. Cry over the letters and show them to their family and friends.

The Bible is God’s love letter to us. What are you doing with it? Are you pouring over it? Are you reading it over and over again? Are you crying over it? Are you sharing it with your friends and family? Starting in Genesis through Revelations, God shows us how much he loves us and what he has done to pursue us. He shows how he sacrificed for us. John 15:13 says, Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. That’s what God’s love letter says to you. That is what God has done for you.

His sacrifice meant stripping Jesus of the benefits of heaven, clothing him in flesh, exposing him in the vulnerability of a baby, dealing with humanity in its depravity and dying the most excruciating and humiliating death imaginable. He did all of that for me – his willful, ADHD daughter who would be in fist fights with boys in elementary, would forge a failed math test in middle school, and who would have multiple stupid human tricks in high school and college. He did that for me – his daughter who would struggle with submission and obedience. He created me even though he that I would cost him the life of His only Son. He knew you before you breathed your first breath and knows every day of your life, and yet, He created you anyway. Yes, Taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy is he who finds his refuge in the Lord. This is a love affair that will never end, and a love affair for which I am eternally grateful.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Confessions of a Chocoholic

I have a confession to make. While I may love my husband, I have had a love affair with chocolate since as far back as I can remember. Sometimes a girl just needs a mouth full of chocolate…my thought anyway. I believe chocolate to be one of those “good and perfect gifts” from God described in James.

At the end of a particularly arduous, stressful, anxiety-ridden day in which I didn’t have one nerve that wasn’t frazzled, I told my family I was going to go and soak in the hottest bubble bath I could stand. I explained the only reasons anyone may knock on the door, come through the door or talk to me through the door was if someone was gushing blood (I knew this wouldn’t be Patrick because he would be passed smooth out) or someone was on death’s door. I told them if someone dare approach the door or try to talk to me without blood or near death that I would be the one causing a gushing of blood and that someone would meet their Maker face-to-face that very night. With that understood, I headed to the master bath. That’s when it hit me. I took a detour through the kitchen, grabbed a platter out of the fridge and a fork and quickly escaped to the hot bath and lit candles that awaited me. I slipped into the tub and began to eat.

There are two women in my life that could make the best chocolate pies…the kind with real meringue (or as Grandmother Timmons called it “cat slobber”). You know the kind that has lightly browned curls on top. I’m salivating just thinking about it…seriously. Those women are my Grandmother Timmons and Patrick’s granny who would make that pie for me every time we went for a visit. Both of these wonderful ladies are now making chocolate pies for Jesus in heaven. At any rate, I’ve tasted all kind of chocolate pies to try to find one that can compare, and I had finally found one. It’s at Julianne’s. I had sneaked a half of a chocolate pie into the master bath with me. I'm not talking about a small personal pie. I'm talking a big 9" homemade chocolate pie with real meringue, and I began to eat. I ate, and I ate, and I ate. Girlfriend, let me just tell you I ATE THE WHOLE HALF PIE!  There wasn't a crumb left. I ate it all right there in the bathtub, candlelight, and fading bubbles.

I have never really been an emotional eater. As a matter of fact, I tend to do the opposite when I’m stressed, but sometimes chocolate just hits the spot.

For that evening, my refuge was a tub full of hot bubbles, candles and ½ of a chocolate pie. It’s not always practical or healthy to have this as a refuge, is it?

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy is the man who takes refuge in him.” If chocolate pie is good, then God must be off the chain! Taste and see is an invitation to explore and watch God’s handiwork. His Word and His actions go hand-in-hand. They do not contradict each other.

The more you seek after him, the more you dig into the Word, the sweeter the walk. Taste and see!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More on the Bleeding Woman and Jairus

I am sooooo enjoying teaching this group of women how to read, study and dig deeper in the Word of God. I love listening to them when they “get it.” I love reading their posts on the group wall on Facebook where they post their questions and answers. I love the fact that some had to exercise self-restraint last week before diving into Luke’s version of the bleeding woman. That is exciting to see. I love to see others “get it.” I love hearing them talk about what God showed them personally about where they are in their own life and their own relationship with him. It is so stinkin’ exciting!

After studying this story in Matthew and Mark, one would wonder why even bother reading Luke’s version, right? Truth is, every time you read the story you should read it as if you’ve never read it before. Don’t assume you know the outcome. Choose a character and become that person in the story looking at the events through their eyes. As I looked studied Luke, I put myself in the place of Jairus, the daddy of the dying girl. Do you ever think that God is delaying or dawdling around in answer your prayers? Been there. Done that.

I remember a quote from one of Beth Moore’s Bible study that went along the lines – God is always right on time. He misses a few opportunities to be early, but He’s always right on time.

Jairus had just witnesses Jesus completely healing the bleeding woman and then hearing the woman’s testimony, so when the neighbor came saying to not bother the teacher…surely, his heart sank. Having just seen and heard such a wonderful miracle and wanting the same for his daughter only to have a different outcome must have for a brief moment been disheartening. I wonder if it was easy for Jairus to believe Jesus when he said, “Don’t be afraid, just believe,” or if he was thinking, “Lord, why her? Why not my daughter?” Regardless, Jairus believed. His belief, his faith in Jesus Christ is what ultimately healed his, then dead, daughter. What is harder to overcome – illness or death?

This woman and this daughter are connected to Jesus through the number 12. In the Bible number 12 has signified governing bodies – 12 tribes, 12 disciples. I’m just wondering if this was Jesus’ way to show that he governs the body and the timing of healing, timing of death and timing of life? The Bible says that worrying does not add length to our life…as a matter of fact, it does the opposite. Paul said for him to live is Christ, but to die was his gain. He was ready. No one is ever truly ready to let someone go even when we know it’s time. It just hurts too much…understatement. Ultimately, Jesus is in control whether you like it or not.

I think about the little girl. I wonder if she got to see heaven before Jesus returned her spirit to her. I wonder so many things about this girl. My guessing is that Jesus didn’t want her parents to tell what he had done to say the girl the stigmatism from being considered unclean the rest of her life, but I wonder what she did with the rest of her life. What became of her?

Just because a story ends doesn’t mean the characters within those stories didn’t have the rest of their lives to live. Jesus touches a life, and it is forever changed.

I’m sorry this is a bit rambling, but this is just where my thoughts took me while meditating on this story in Luke.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Here's My Card...Professional Mourner -- Yeah, that's not a job I want

A friend of mine’s great aunt was a born and bred Cajun. Cajuns have their own dialect, own language if you will, own culture and way of life. They have their own type of music and some of the most flavorful food your taste buds will ever have the pleasure of experiencing. I do not pretend to know everything about Cajuns because while I live in Louisiana, I live in northwest Louisiana. Really anyone from above Pineville/Alexandria area is considered a Yankee to a true Cajun. But my girlfriend tells a story of her great auntie. Her great auntie would get up every morning, drink her chicory coffee out of her demitasse cup and read the obituaries. She would read the obits to determine just how she would dress for the day. You see, her great auntie was a professional mourner. She’d attend the dirge, and she would wail and cry and moan and carry on for the deceased even though she had never spoken a word to them, never had laid eyes on them. She would attend the funeral, and she would stay for the food during the visitation. She was a regular at the funeral homes. It’s just what she did. If you’ve never seen a Cajun funeral in New Orleans, you really should. There is nothing like it. I remember seeing family and friends mourning and singing as they walked to a cemetery, and then later, I heard them coming out singing and playing music that jumped.

I know all of this sounds quite morbid, but from the first time I saw this and heard stories I’ve been curious.

We’ve been studying the story about the bleeding woman, and just like our lives and our own personal stories, her story is integrated into the life and story of another female. As a matter of fact, Jairus a local leader had gone to Jesus and asked him to come heal his daughter who was on her death bed. Jesus agreed and when Jesus was on his way, the bleeding woman touched him. Jesus was delayed, or at least if I was Jairus that’s what I would have been thinking. I’d be there tapping my foot and doing whatever I could to urge Jesus to keep moving forward to his house. Erin was a very sick baby and was in the hospital 6 times before the age of 3, and there was a doctor in the ER that incompetent – that’s the nicest way I can talk about him. It got to the point that when I was taking Erin to the hospital, I’d call her doctor, and her doctor would admit her over the phone. I’d do anything to get my daughter into a mist tint, breathing treatments and IVs.

But we don’t see that in this story. What we see is a believing father seeking out the Savior and then waiting. You don’t see Jairus interrupting the healing of the bleeding woman. You don’t read that he knocked one of the disciples out. You don’t read that Jairus kept checking his watch…lol. Once Jesus had healed the woman, Jairus receives the news that his daughter had died. Before Jairus’s emotions can kick into gear, Jesus tells Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (MK 5:36). WOW! I wonder if I were walking in Jairus’s sandals if I would have enough faith to JUST BELIEVE.

Have you ever asked yourself or said, “If Jesus would have just done _________, things would be different” or “things would be better if Jesus would have just ___________________.” Isaiah says God’s thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways. His thoughts and ways are so much higher than our own that we cannot comprehend. The Bible also says we only see things as if looking into a mirror dimly lit. God sees the whole picture. God knows the right timing. God know what will bring about the best outcome in the end. You JUST have to BELIEVE. How much do you trust Him? It’s easy to say that you trust him with your life until it is put to test by taking the health of a loved one.

Jairus, Jesus and a few disciples arrive at the home of Jairus, and the mourners have already started gathering like a bunch of vultures. They were wailing and carrying on. I love how the Message put it, “gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles.” (Sounds like they had southern Baptist back then – it’s okay to laugh here.) They were professional mourners. They knew the girl had died. That is why those people were there. And when Jesus said she was just asleep the mourners laughed. So what does Jesus do? HE PUTS THEM OUT. He put out the unbelievers. He removed them. Does that tell you anything? There are times and situations in your life that you need to remove unbelievers from your presence, from your trials because all they have to say is not what Jesus wants you to hear.

Jesus knew what was in store, but Jairus didn’t. He had to believe even when he didn’t see a way. The faith of that daddy in Jesus Christ is what restored his daughter to life. How is your faith or lack of faith affecting your children? Is it giving them life everlasting, or is it turning them away? Is your faith showing your children that we don’t live by sight and what seems obvious to man? There is more than one way to experience death…death in life and death in faith. What does your faith teach your children?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Name Change

When Erin was about 2 ½ years old, we were driving on Dean Road headed the back way to Honey and Poppar’s house when she told me very emphatically that she did not like her name. Erin wasn’t a very opinionated child like her sibling, so I have to admit it hurt my feelings a little that she didn’t like her name. I explained that I loved her name and how we came to choose her name, but she was intent on changing it. At first she wanted to change it to “G.” G was Patrick’s mom who would come and get Erin once a quarter, take her back to Mississippi and spend a whole week with her. Erin got a high concentration of undivided attention. Patrick and I would call the week after “Detox” week, but we are so grateful for those times that Erin had with Gynelle. When I pointed out to Erin that we already had a G in our family, Erin decided to settle on the name Elmo. The rest of the day we had to call her Elmo, or she wouldn’t respond.

Stay with me…I promise there is a connection.

In Mark 5, Jesus was on his way to visit a very sick little girl when he felt power leave him. He’s being pressed from every side. The crowd is almost crushing, and Jesus stops to ask who touched him. Um, hello? A mob is pressing in every direction, and Jesus wants to know who touched him. I am so right there with Peter when he feels the need to state the obvious. Bless his heart and mine.

In Mark 5:30, “At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’” He didn’t look to the left. He didn’t look to the right. He knew exactly from where the power had left him. He knew exactly who had touched him too. He was looking for her, for her face. Verse 32 said Jesus kept looking. I wonder. I wonder if their eyes met. I wonder if she had a hard time looking into his face. Why did he feel the need to call her out? Hadn’t this woman been through enough? I wonder what she felt in those few moments after being healed and then being discovered.

When she realizes she can no longer hide, she comes before Jesus trembling, falls at his feet and tells her story. Humbling. Have you ever had someone do something for you without asking, and it is something you could never do for yourself at that point in time? It is humbling. Jesus calls her daughter. Daughter. Jesus called her out, so he could have a person relationship with her, a protective relationship with her. How awesome is that?! A personal Savior wanting a personal relationship.

He also wanted her to know that it wasn’t his clothes that healed her. It was her faith in him that healed her. He wanted her to testify. He wanted her to have witnesses to her healing. Unclean no more was she, but clean – cleaner than anyone could ever make her.

What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus? What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow. No other found I know. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

You know another reason he may have had her testify is to bring it to light. If we have been forgiven of an act, Jesus forgives us, but Satan can still try to use it against us. By bringing her situation into the light of day and confessing that while she was unclean she touched a man, Satan cannot make her feel guilty because nothing is hidden. There is nothing of which to be ashamed.

For twelve long years, this woman had bore the name Unclean, and in one healing moment, Jesus changed the negative, derogatory name to DAUGHTER. REDEEMED! Have you ever carried around a stigma? Have you ever been burdened with a label that is intentionally cruel? Have you ever tried to hide who you are because you weren’t good enough? There is a Savior who is Jesus Christ, and he so desperately want to take away your shame and replace it with the name Daughter, Child of God, Forgiven, Redeemed. Oh, thank you, Sweet Jesus!

When Jesus does something in your life, testify! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him heavenly host. Praise Father God, Son and Holy Ghost. I am so grateful for my name change in Jesus Christ. Are you?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Are you in a struggle? For how long? There's Hope

After reading and comparing, Matthew, Mark and Luke’s accounts of the woman who bled and after reading various translations and transliteration of these verses, I am just in awe of this poor woman. If you dig deeper, your study will lead you to Leviticus 15:19-32. Every month a woman was considered unclean during her cycle, and if she had discharge that continued longer than the normal cycle, she was considered unclean for the whole amount of time plus eight days. Then the women had to offer sacrifices to become clean. During her cycle, no one was to touch her, what she sat on, or her bed, or they would become unclean as well. This poor lady had been having a bleeding condition for TWELVE YEARS! Now, ladies, you know back in that day women didn’t have the conveniences we have today. Their duties around the home and grounds was restricted during this time, but this poor woman had an ongoing medical issue. After twelve years of dealing with this affliction, I can’t help but think she had to be anemic. She had to feel isolated and alone, ostracized and maybe neglected. Twelve years of being seen as unclean seeking help but finding none, wanting healing but becoming destitute without medical success. If you have friends and family members who stick around for twelve years of hardship, count yourself blessed.

                      I’m wondering if this woman had that kind of support.

                               I’m wondering if she becomes reclusive tired of telling her story over and over again.

                                    I’m wondering if her social skills are lacking because she hasn’t had   social interaction with people because she is unclean.
Instead of wearing the Scarlett Letter A,
she wears the Scarlett Letter U – Unclean.

In Matthew’s story, the woman approaches Jesus from behind. Timidity and lack of social interaction, could she not face Jesus straight on? Did she fear making Jesus unclean by her touch?

Put yourself in her shoes. She is pushing and shoving her way through a sea of humanity. People are clammering to get a good look at Jesus, to be near him. She worms her way forward. She’s getting closer. She reaches out her hand. Twelve years she has tried everything under the sun. She had followed every doctors’ orders. She has tried every old wives’ tale and piece of advice she received, and here she is pushing her way through to Jesus. After twelve years, THIS WOMAN STILL HAS HOPE! Don’t you know that over the past twelve years her hopes have been dashed too many times to count? Don’t you know that over the past twelve years people have told her to give up? But here she is struggling to get to him, struggling to reach him. She puts out her hand. She can almost reach the Savior. Can you feel the anxiety and energy that she must have been feeling?

                         She’s reaching.
                                  She’s straining, and then she feels it.
                                            She has touched the garment of the Savior!


I’m just telling you right now, if I were her I’d stop dead in my tracks and bawl like a baby. Having struggled with infertility and enduring fertility treatments I know about seeking help, getting my hopes up only to have them dashed. I know about taking every piece of advice given and following the rules. I have been that anxious woman reaching out my hand to Jesus, and I too have felt that relief, that healing. My healing did not come in the form of a successful, full-term pregnancy. My healing came when we stopped trying and adopted the child God had chosen for us.

Is there something that you have struggled with for a period of time? Have you seen doctors, visited with wise counsel? Have you invested your time, energy and money into the situation? Have you ever lost hope? Find your hope in Him. Reach out for him. He’s there.

Twelve years of struggle. Twelve years of pain, embarrassment. Twelve years of poor health. Twelve long years, and one touch gave her a future she never thought she’d have. One touch gave her healing. One touch gave her life. One touch restored her to living.

Are you desperate for Jesus? Are you so desperate for him that you are willing to reach out for him? He wants you to reach out for him. He’ll be there. I promise. He’ll be there.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

You're Skating on Borrowed Time! PSALM 139 Homework

According to, logophile is the Greek word meaning lover of words. It really should not surprise anyone that this daughter of a retired, high-school, English teacher is a logophile. I wasn’t always good at it. As a kid, I’d tell people to copocerate with me – cooperate. I’d get phrases confused and would often join two together – You’re skating on borrowed time. So as I lead my girlfriends in how to study the Bible, how to dig deeper, I’m going through Psalm 139 as part of the homework, and I’m labeling the qualities or characteristics of God:
·         Omnipotent – all powerful
·         Omnipresent – present everywhere
·         Omniscient – all knowing
·         Immanent – fully present and accessible
But then I get to verse 11…
I’m struggling with vs 11, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night – even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you.” I am at a loss for the word. So you know what I do? I ask. I ask my mom. Then I text my nurse friend and a nursing student. I FB message a doctor friend of mine. I get them all searching. I’ve got to have a word to describe my God’s ability to see in the night as if it were day. Surely there is a word. Surely. (See my Bible studies are not confined to me. I spread my curiosity. I figure if I’m going to be perplexed and frustrated and wonder about something, someone else should be too! LOL) This ability of God’s is not like Superman’s who’s eyesight was laser sharp because God’s ability to see means He knows no night. He knows no darkness. He really has no use for darkness. This creation of darkness is strictly for those living on this earth that need to rest including the land.
I have studied this chapter many times. As a matter of fact before Erin was born God gave me vs 13-14 for her life verses. I quote v 5 -- hemming us in the front and the back -- when I pray for someone. But each time God has me focus on a different scripture, and it’s killing me. I want to know what it means. What is He trying to say to me?
·         I AM… UNFATHOMABLE yet personally interested in His children
·         I AM… INDESCRIBABLE in one mere, human term
·         I AM… INCOMPREHENSIBLE yet provides glimpses into who He is so we are not overwhelmed by His Majesty, His grandeur and so we can have a relationship with Him
·         I AM… not in a box, not in a word, not an event
·         I AM… much, much, much more
I AM… I AM. Deal with it.
It’s when I realize just how unfathomable, indescribable, incomprehensible my God is that I become humbled that He is even mindful of me. He’s not only mindful of each of us, but He takes the time to hand-make, one-of-a-kind individuals since the beginning of time. He is so mindful of us that He keeps an eye on us wherever we are. Regardless of how BiG He is and how small I am, He has taken such an interest to set out my days before I took my first breath. He finds us worthy of His attention and affection. He finds us wonderfully made. He finds us as we are and loves us anyway. Once I understand these things, I can’t help but pray verses 23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Amen.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Pregnancy Lasted Longer than an Elephant's

Eleven years ago today, Patrick and I got dressed to appear before a judge. Erin was almost ten months old, and she was in tow. She had on a black beret, with a black, velvet bodice dress with black hounds tooth skirt, white tights and black paten Mary Janes. She was clueless to the stress and energy surrounding this day. We drove to the Belton County courthouse where we met up with our family and our attorney who was my uncle. Unsure of how long we would be here because there was no order to the docket, my uncle started jockeying for position before the judge even entered the courtroom.

All Rise. I had been in courtrooms before but not for anything close to this. As soon as we were allowed to be seated, my uncle sprinted toward the bench. That’s the fastest I think I’ve ever seen him move. The judge decided to hear our case first, and Patrick and I approached the bench. I was happy to be holding Erin because my nerves were on end, and I’m afraid of what I would have been doing with my hands otherwise. As we stood before the judge, he began asking questions of my attorney uncle, and then his questions turned to Patrick and me. Will you be good parents? Will you love this child? Will you see this child as your own? Some of the most ridiculous questions on the face of the earth. Like we were going to answer with, Nope, Nope, Nope. Sometime during the questioning Erin’s chubby little hand reached over the bench and took the judges calculator tape and unrolled it towards her mouth. I didn’t realize it until the judge looked down at Erin. So relieved and a little embarrassed, I replaced the judge’s calculator tape while he grinned. It was one of the best thing he does as a judge, he said, to announce our adoption had been finalized. Of course, pictures were taken. Hugs were given, and our family all made our way down to the first floor to file the paperwork. And by family, I mean me, Patrick, Erin, Sharon and Steve, Lori and Madeleine, Honey and Poppar. It was more like a posse.

What a joyful day it was to finalize Erin’s adoption. I had loved her from the moment God had put the desire in my heart to be a mom. I had wanted her from the moment we had started our search for her. I had prayed for her during our journey to find her, and when I saw her for the first time in the delivery room taking her first breath, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else in the world.

I am forever bound to another woman in this world because she loved her child so much that she chose life. She chose to give Erin life, and then she chose to give Erin her future. If you have never craved a child, desired to be a mom, grieved the loss of every month that passed, if you have never searched high and low for the child God had chosen for you, if you’ve never known the failure of an adoption because of withdrawal from a birthparent, then thank God. If you have been through those trials, struggles and tribulations or are going through them, know that there is an end, and the reward is great. I cherish my kids. I don’t take them for granted because there’s no way I could have them myself. There are no rule books for adoption because each story is unique. If you are even thinking about adoption, start journaling because it is part of your baby’s story and your journey to meet him or her.

I tell people my pregnancy lasted three years and two months – from the time we started trying till the time Erin was in my arms. My pregnancy was longer than an elephant’s whose pregnancy lasts for 22 months! Did I feel her move inside me? She was growing in my heart. Was I ever uncomfortable? Have you ever talked to another woman who is contemplating placing her baby for adoption and is considering you for that job? You bet I was uncomfortable at times. Did I have cravings? Stress eating can cause people to eat specific things. Thankfully I lived in Belton that had some great places for breakfast burritos! Was I emotional and did I nest? Are you kidding me? Absolutely! Erin’s nursery was ready before we even went to the informational meeting at the adoption agency!

I specifically prayed for a healthy, easy-going baby girl the first go-around. I wanted to be in the delivery room. I prayed for that. There are other things that I prayed for and God answered them. Erin knows without a doubt that it was by God’s design that she was chosen to be my daughter. She also knows that sometimes God does things outside the box in unconventional ways for different reasons, and we just have to trust that He knows what He’s doing and will work it out for our best.

Erin, I can’t imagine my life without you in it. You are such a blessing and a joy, and you were so worth the wait!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My First Meeting

I hate being stuck. I hate to struggle. I hate difficulty, and I hate strife. And yet I’ve been doing it for over a year. A necessary process. If the caterpillar doesn’t struggle and squirm to make it through the difficult walls of the cocoon, it will never reach maturity. It will never turn into a beautiful butterfly. I can honestly tell you I’m on the verge of breaking free, and I am a ready to kiss this old cocoon goodbye.

On Facebook I made a request. I asked if any of my girlfriends on Facebook would like to learn how to read and study the Bible and to hold me accountable. I asked them to inbox me. I think I got about 5 responses, and I was thrilled. But the closer the time came for us to meet, there was a number God had been placing on my heart and mind. So acting on faith, I bought 15 spirals of 3*5 note cards something each lady would need. Before the night of the study, two husbands were called in to work, but the ladies assured me they wanted to be present and would make the next meeting. Then Sunday came. I stayed in the bed most of the day and barely had a voice, but when the time came, I got up to go I had energy, and I had a voice. I was eager to see who was going to be there. I had told my mom about the number, and she wanted me to call once it was all done.

I show up at Starbuck’s at 5:10 PM. It didn’t even start until 6, but I was anxious and eager and excited. The ladies actually started showing up around 5:30 PM. One by one by one by one they arrived until there were 13. My 15 as God has promised. I love it when He gives those little winks at us. I’m so thankful I acted on faith.

I laid out the plan for the study, what they would need, what was going to be expected, and as I closed in prayer, I made sure they couldn’t leave until they met everyone there. You see, these women aren’t from just one church or from one part of town. Some are from Stonewall, Keithville, Greenwood, Shreveport, and Bossier. I’ve known one since high school. I’ve met one only once before. Some I know from church. Regardless of how I know them or how long I’ve known them, they came because they wanted to learn how to study the Bible for themselves, and by doing so are holding me accountable.

After the meeting was over, God had a divine appointment for me with one of the ladies. I know it was him because the connection was not one I had anticipated. It was an opportunity to encourage and pray over a woman with similar struggles. God never wastes anything. He can use it all.

One of the ladies sent me an e-mail, and she granted me permission to quote her. Like me she had gotten bogged down and in a funk. She said, “I have been stuck so deep in the ‘Woe is me to see the WOW is He’!”

To see women excited about learning, to see women excited about growing into an intimate relationship with our Savior fires me up. I am so stinkin’ excited. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for this group of women. Don’t you know that God is anticipating a more intimate relationship with each of his girls, his precious daughters?! WOOHOO!!!! Love it. I can’t wait to blog about what I learn during our Bible study time together and during the time spent preparing. Tis so sweet!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


My son is left handed. My husband has a gun safe full of right handed guns. I’m grinning. Like me, Pearce will have to learn to shoot using a right-handed gun in his left hand. Typically, people have a dominant hand, a dominant foot and a dominant eye. When Pearce started kindergarten he would write “Pea” with his left hand and “rce” with his right. It is rare that a person is truly ambidextrous like that. Since we had to settle on a hand, we are working on the left hand as the dominant.

The reason you want to know which is your dominant hand is because that is the hand you want to use to hold the only weapon in the armor of God – the Sword of God which is the Word of God. The only way to defeat the evil in this world is Scripture. Jesus used it and won, so why shouldn’t we? Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Here’s the thing about putting on the armor of God and picking up the Sword, the Sword does all the work. Did you get that? The Sword does all the work. We aren’t supposed to pick up our Bibles and go slap somebody upside the head with it tempting as it may be. We aren’t supposed to hold it while we sit in judgment of someone else. In Hebrews 4 it clearly says, “it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” “It” being the Word of God. The Bible does not read, “The one who holds the Sword rules and judges.” Jesus used Scripture to defend Himself from Satan. He quoted it. That means He memorized Scripture. I’m thankful we live in a country where we go to church and read our Bibles to learn Scripture. With that being said, the words that come out of our mouth should be the ones that God puts there, and not the ones we feel like we want to say or feel like we have the right to say. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Let me tell you sweet friends, that reproofing is for you as well. S

Now in the morning when I wake up my kids I grab an arm. Sometimes I grab the correct one. Sometimes I don’t. I grab their arm and proclaim this is the arm that carries the sword which is the word of God. Then I flop their arm. Seriously, Erin, this is the best you can do? How can you possibly be strong enough to carry this sword with flabby arms like this? Show me those muscles, girl?  Pearce, you planning on dragging your sword to the fight. I don’t think this arm is strong enough to carry Excalibur into a fight much less even be able to hold up. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would look if Pearce was dragging Excalibur behind him into battle? You’d see a track where he feet had been and a separate trail left by the dragging saber. What am I getting at here? What AM I getting to here? Oh yeah, the point is this…Satan knows the Word of God probably better than you do. If you are going into a gun battle, don’t take a water pistol. You gotta know the Word of God. Meditate on it. Learn to apply it to your life. It takes strength and courage to live a Christian life.

Excallibur was King Arthur’s magical sword that he pulled out of a stone. It was said to have all sorts of powers. That was make believe. The Word of God is real. Dig into it. Grow deep in your relationship with Him. Meditate on God’s Word. Memorize Scripture that way when the day comes and you are confronted, the words that come out of your mouth will not be what comes from hate or anger, but rather the words you speak will be what God has placed in your heart to speak,  and watch God work through you.


I'm not sure what we will do next 9 weeks...maybe the fruit of the Spirit, or we may continue on the armor of God just depends on where God leads us. Hope you are able to use some bit of what you've read here of the past couple of weeks. Can't wait to watch my kids grow in their faith. Sometimes we have to reapply those pieces of armor throughout the day because we take them off for no good reason...usually because we want our own way. Don't be afraid to reapply the armor. After all, we are to take it into EVERY situation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Helmet for Big Hair

There was a kid on Pearce’s baseball team that got up to bat and when he swung, the little boy’s batting helmet spun around. It was quite an odd and unusual site. Obviously, the piece of armor we are focusing today is the helmet. The helmet of Salvation. A properly fitting helmet in a suit of armor fits snuggly. It is not built for comfort. It is built for protection. It limits your scope of vision to that which is before you. In battle, the leader goes before his troop. Our focus as Christians is to be on Jesus Christ the One who saved us, the One whom we are serving, the One whom we are following.

Salvation is easy to obtain. Humble yourself. Realize you are a sinner and that your sin will keep you away from God forever. Then ask Jesus to come into your heart and take away your sin. So why isn’t Salvation over the heart then? My personal thought on this is because the biggest mine field Satan plays with is in our own minds. We can be our own worst enemy by what we allow into our minds whether through our own thoughts, what we’ve watched or what we’ve heard. If we are putting on the helmet of Salvation, then we are remembering constantly what it was like before we came into the presence of an Almighty, Holy, Just, Compassionate and thankfully Merciful God, and those thoughts then effect how we live our life and how we look at others and how we treat others.

When I put the helmet of Salvation on Erin in the morning, she’s usually still in bed which means wild hair. If you don’t have curly or wavy hair, you have no concept of what truly wild hair can look like. I remember when she was a baby. I’d go into her room in the morning, and she was just sooooo happy to see me. Oh how I miss those days! She would be standing up, jumping in her baby bed, mouth wide open and hair standing on end like Phyllis Diller. I could gage the amount of humidity by how big Erin’s hair stood. It’s one of those mental pictures I keep in my mind and cherish. Her helmet is not the same size as it was when she was a little person riding a scooter. Her helmet as grown with the size of her head. The depth of the knowledge of your salvation and your faith should be growing. Your head is also a source of wisdom, and wisdom comes from the Lord. Knowledge is also housed in the brain. Your knowledge of who Jesus is, who you are to him, and just how precious your salvation is should mature as you mature in your faith.

Something else to think about...the helmet protects the ears. Remember the children's song Oh Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear? We should use our salvation to filter what we allow into our brains because what we think eventually comes out our mouths and is shown in our actions. If we are focusing our thoughts on redeeming love, then what should come out of our mouths?
One more thing, when you meet someone typically the first place you look is at their face. Correct? If you are wearing the helmet of salvation, then those who meet you face to face would see and should see your salvation on and around your face. Have you ever met someone and just by looking in their face, you knew they were a Christian? Look in the mirror. Are you constantly frowning or scowling? Seriously, if you’re a Christian and can’t find a reason to be grateful or to have joy, then search harder. Does that mean that Christians don’t go through trials? PLEASE! We go through the same trials and tribulations as others, but the difference is we have peace knowing that the God who created us and knew us before we were formed is already ahead of the situation preparing our way, working it out for our good. We just have to keep our eyes focused on that which is before us – Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Kids Choose Their Weakest Arm to Hold the Shield of Faith…Interesting

So every morning when I wake my children to get them ready for school, I am attempting to put on their armor of God. The goal is that one day they will apply it themselves and remember it throughout their day. My daughter is right handed, and my son is left handed -- sort of. They choose their less dominant hand to hold the shield of faith…every time. Their weakest arm is what they choose to hold the shield that protects them. Personally, I enjoy helping them put on their shields because I pinch on their “muscles” under their arms and say, “You call this thing a muscle? I thought it was spaghetti!” And of course, I have to tickle them. But I point out how they lack strength in those arms and how we need to “pump them up.” I explain that their faith is the same way. The more you use the shield of faith, the stronger you are and the better equipped you are to extinguish the flaming arrows. The more your faith grows, the bigger the shield to protect you. The shield will cover more territory…if you know what I mean? The older I get the more territory I got.

In order for your faith to grow, however, you have to endure hardship. James 1:2-7, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” James 1:12-17, “A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God.’ For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempts anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.” (This would be those flaming arrows.) “Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dearly loved brothers. Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.”

Our faith in God grows through persevering through trials. God can use our mistakes and bad choices to grow our faith, or He can allow things to happen in the natural course of events to grow our faith. When we make poor choices, IT IS NOT GOD’S FAULT what happens next. When we take our focus off of God and we wander away from what is right, then we open ourselves up for attack. Our weaknesses are exposed. Sometimes things just happen in life through no fault of our own, and we have no choice but to grow in our faith. The stronger our faith becomes that bigger the shield we can carry. New Christians or children carry smaller shields, but as they grow in their faith, they change out their shields to larger ones.

Ephesians 6:16, “In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Kind of reminds me of the commercial for Mastercard – “Don’t leave home without it.” You will have the opportunity to use your faith in EVERY situation. 1 Peter 3:15, “…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” People are watching how you live out your faith. They are watching to see how you will respond when you don’t get the clean bill of health, when your car breaks down, when your spouse leaves, when your child rebels. They are watching to see how you are going to live out your faith, and you have to be ready to give an answer to them for how you are portraying Christ. Your shield of faith has the crest of the One you serve. So if you are serving Jesus, just be ready to explain how it is you can endure, how you can have hope.

I wonder what God’s crest looks like. I think God’s crest is the same for me as it is for you regardless of where you are, who you are, or what you’ve done. God is just that way. He loves you just as much as He loves me, so I think the crest is the same, but I think the look of the shield may vary. For example, my mom has fought stage 3 breast cancer. Her shield got pretty beat up during the fight, but she held strong to her faith. Are there dings in her shield from the fight? I bet there are. Badges of honor. The shield did its job. Her faith in Jesus, in God got her through the fight of her life. I know of a woman who was abused by her husband who had countless number of affairs. Do you think her shield may have gotten banged up? I bet it did. Here’s the thing, the shield is like a Timex. It takes a lickin’ but keeps on tickin’ meaning your faith is made to endure. God doesn’t expect you to have the faith of a warrior if you’ve never been through the fight. He gives you what He knows you can handle with HIM. He is your shield. You have to have faith in Him that he’s going to take of it. He’s got this problem in front of you. The metal of your faith will be tested, but you will find that God doesn’t skimp out on the armor. There is no defect if you will use it properly. If you hold a shield by propping your elbow on your waist while your hand holds the shield – is that a good stance to defend yourself? Or should you have a fierce grip standing firm? Exactly.

See, you thought this was going to be blogs good for you to teach your kids, but it’s really for you, isn’t it? Model this for your kids. When tough things happen, tell them, “I’m choosing to pick up my shield of faith. I’m going to trust that God’s got this.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spiritual Armor -- Flip Flops, Cowboy Boots, or Rubber Boots?

This summer we made our first emergency room run with Pearce. He was playing outside in the yard barefooted. We live in the country, and it’s just not something we do. At any rate, he stepped on a piece of glass, and it ended up slicing an artery on the bottom of his foot. He comes running, hobbling into the house. After sees all the blood coming from his foot, he starts screaming, “I DON’T WANT TO DIE TODAY! I DON’T WANT TO DIE TODAY!” That boy needed some shoes! That boy wanted some peace! While Pearce is very curious about the shoes that have come out in the last year or so that have toes…like the shoe is a glove for your feet or something, as a general rule, my son prefers two type of shoes – flip flops and cowboy boots. When push comes to shove, he’ll wear a pair of rubber boots. Erin, on the other hand, has been about comfort, but now she’s getting to an age where she wants a little bling on her comfort. She’s too funny.

So why is there armor on your feet? Philippians 1:27 says, “…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith (that comes from) the gospel.” We are to stand firm in what is taught in the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. When was the last time you read and studied one of those books? We can stand firm in our faith because of what is in those gospels…our hope, our future, our forever.

Then there’s that whole Great Commission thing…Matthew 28:19-20, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Think about Moses and the children of Israel for a moment when they were wondering in the desert. They wore the same stinkin’ pair of sandals for 40 years. They didn’t wear out (Deut 29:5). Just like here, the Gospel of Peace doesn’t wear out. People are looking in all different kinds of places for peace, and Christians are hiding their lights!

God is providing each believer with a pair of Designer shoes!!!! What girl doesn’t like designer shoes? One of a kind, custom made shoes. You got high arches? No problem. Are you flat footed? No problem. The gospel applies to everyone, and He meets you where you are.

When I was growing up, I had really bizarre feet. I had a 7 ½ AAAA and a 7 AAA. Try getting shoes to fit right on those things! I hated shoes. My feet have changed some, but not as much as some of my girlfriends whose feet grew during pregnancy. Yes, that’s another thing about feet. They grow! As your understanding about the gospel grows and what it means to you, the more it becomes necessary to GO. Share it with your wait person at the restaurant. Share it with the person beside you in the waiting room. Just share.

My kids have me roll down their windows when we go through the drive-ins because they want to tell the workers that Jesus loves them. Something as simple as that is putting your feet to action.

One more point, if you aren’t on your feet moving, you’re on your behind. If you’re on your behind, guess what gets bigger? YEP! Your derrière. And there ain’t no armor to cover that…just sayin’.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Light Saber to the Rib Kills the Boy EVERY TIME

I’m going to show my age here, but did Jane Russell do a commercial for “cross-my-heart” bras? Sorry men. This whole breastplate thing looks different on a woman, and my mind wandered in this direction…you know, that whole ADHD thing.

Several years ago a girlfriend and I went to Italy on an amazing trip. We took an excursion to Austria, and as part of that excursion, we took the tour of a castle. The owner of the castle had been a collector of uniquities – my term for unique, bizarre, and downright strange things. One of the more normal things he collected was armor. There was one armor set that could have been worn by Goliath. It was mammoth! What I thought was strange was the armor the size of a 3 year old. They had armor made so their children could play in it! How could a child possibly play in a suit of armor? Seriously. Can you imagine being the one who had to shape the little, bitty breastplate? How tedious that must have been because they were exact replicas of a larger one. A coworker of mine left the Farm and went into a branch of law enforcement. She may be 105 pounds on a good day and very petite. When it came to her bullet proof vest, it had to be cut down to her size.

If I were to get a breastplate, I’d want them to forge a six-pack for me…ripped. I may be soft in the middle behind that breastplate, but on the outside, I WOULD LOOK GOOOOD! But once again I chase a rabbit, squirrel or eagle.

But in the armor of God, the breastplate of righteousness protects your chest. Your chest houses your heart and lungs, so obviously when I wake the boy up and put on his breastplate of righteousness, I cup my hands, and I beat it onto him. I tell Pearce that the breastplate of righteousness protects his life force. Lungs pump oxygen, and the heart pumps the blood. Without them, you die. So, Pearce, may the force be with you! When he and I play swords or light sabers, I am for his heart. He does a great dying scene – hysterical. He aims for one of my appendages, so if he gets me below the knee, I hit the floor to his level and continue the battle.

Righteousness is doing what is right in God’s eyes. I tell my kids, when your friends do something they aren’t supposed to or they make unwise choices, you have the courage to stand your ground and do what God would have you do. By choosing what God would have you do, you are preserving your own life much like having a life preserver. But here’s the thing about the breastplate, it only protects the front. It is does not cover your backside. God equips you to stand your ground. When you choose to run with the pack and they desert the place where God wants you to stand, your backside is exposed, and that is where you will get attacked. You’ll get bit in the behind every time.

Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” How many times have you gotten your feelings hurt or your heart broken because you allowed something or someone in that shouldn’t be that close to your heart? If we are wearing the breastplate of righteousness, whatever is meant to hurt our heart God can use for his good. Consider Genesis 50:20.

If you are doing what is right in God’s eyes, the choices you make will be life preserving because you are following Him and His leadership. We are under His protection when we are living in His will. Does that mean we won’t go through trials? Uh, NO! What it does mean is that when we go through trials we can have faith that He is hemming us in from the front and the back (Psalm 139). He is already at the end of the struggle, and He has gone ahead of us to prepare the way, to make the rough places smooth (Is 42:16). And when we get weary fighting the good fight, God fortifies us with His strength. Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.”

See how important it is to put on that cross-your-heart breastplate of righteousness? Now, go! And may the force be with you!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The WWE of Belts Is a WWJD Belt

We do not watch wrestling in our home for many, many, MANY reasons all involving the boy as you can only imagine. Even though we don’t watch WWE, my son has seen the commercials. He’s seen the buff players. He’s seen the belts! I don’t even know what WWE stands for! But those belts are as big and gawdy and are more bedazzled than a southern girl’s handbag, and my little boy would love to put his hands on one of those belts. Instead, he opts for his cowboy buckle – his momma can stomach that one a little more easily.

So in the morning when we put on the armor of God, I put my arms around Pearce’s middle and with my hands, I secure the WWJD belt of Truth. Of course there is tickling involved. I’ve got to get some fun in when and where I can, and he has a great laugh. Plus, this belt will do more than hold your britches up.

It is the belt of Truth. Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6). He is the One and only way to heaven. Jesus – we make sure we put Jesus around Pearce’s gut.

In my job, I rely on my gut, my instinct, Jesus – a lot. I pray that Jesus will control my children’s guts, instincts, and will protect their stomach which processes the things we take into our bodies utilizing what is good and profitable and getting rid of the rest. The belt also provides support to the torso or the core. Jesus is our cornerstone.

Here’s the thing about truth. Truth does not change. If someone exaggerates the truth, it is no longer the truth. It has in fact become a lie. Satan would like for us to split hairs saying part is true and part is not, but that is how he gets his foot in the door. As I tell my kids, just stick to the truth it suits you better. People need to know that your “yes” means “yes” (Mt 5:37). They need to be able to trust that what you say is the whole truth without any flare for the drama or exaggeration.

So with our Belt of Truth, I pray my children will choose Jesus to filter out the impurities of this world and that they will choose Jesus to protect them from the father of lies. I pray they will choose Victory in Jesus and proudly wear the belt of Truth. As my friend Bo Roberts says when he testifies in court, “I’m a truth seeker.” I want my kids to be a Truth seeker. I want them to seek and follow Jesus while wearing the belt of Truth.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Even Pearce Knows You Don't Go into a Gun Battle with a Water Pistol

My daughter loves going to chapel. I’m so thankful that she is growing deeper in her faith. She wants to hear more than the same stories in the Bible. She wants to learn life application. I LOVE IT! SO THANKFUL! So when she asked if we could put on the armor of God this year, I readily agreed.

Much to my family’s chagrin, I am a morning person. I will sing. I will sing off key; I will sing in the shower; I will sing loudly; and I will sing out of rhythm if it will get them up and moving. My personal preferences for songs in the morning are When Cows Wake Up in the Morning and Get Up, Get Up, Get Up in Jesus Name by the Bennett sisters. You know, now that I think about it Erin may have asked me to do the armor in the morning so I wouldn’t sing. Erin is SOOOOOOOO not a morning person --- EVER.

So every morning when I wake them for school, I’ve been dressing my kids in their spiritual armor, and the next few blogs are going to be about the armor that my kids are learning to wear, what it looks like, how it feels, and what it means.

In Ephesians 6, the Word of God tells us that we are to stand firm against the devil’s schemes, and we are to put on the full armor of God. We can’t hand select what we will or won’t wear for the day. It’s like a uniform. Can you imagine if a police officer decided not to wear his uniform shirt for the day and instead chose an undershirt? Ridiculous, right? And the thing is, we have to put the armor on every day. I mean unless you are a practicing nudist you put on clothes every day don’t you? If you don’t put on your armor you’re leaving yourself exposed, and at this point in time in my life, I don’t want that much to be exposed…know what I mean? Not putting on the full armor of God is like going into a gun battle with a water pistol…it’s just ridiculous. We gotta be prepared. We need to teach our children to be prepared as well.

My prayer is that as a result of this school year, my kids and I will remember to put on the armor of God before our feet hit the floor every day. If you can use this, great. If you want to share, please feel free. As parents, I think we have to help each other out.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Joy Was Stolen. I've Been Robbed.

More lessons along my hiking journeys over the past few weekends. Had some real Come to Jesus Meetings with Jesus.

My confession -- I got stuck.

I lost my confidence to lead. For many reasons. For no reason. I lost my way. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing with my Master level certificates of knowledge, and so I sat. I said I didn’t care. I became stiff-necked, and if you’ve read Proverbs 29:1, you know that is not a good thing. When you don’t have a designated spot to serve, sometimes it is hard to find your way. There are many possibilities, and the sheer volume can be overwhelming. Then self-doubt creeps in. I love this picture. There are several paths from which to choose. It’s an open place and peaceful looking at first, but if you’re lost and you don’t know what to look for, it would be easy to become distressed. That’s when most hikers make careless mistakes. Much to my chagrin, I’ve sat here for over a year hesitant to make a move. Then I was called out, corrected, and told get on with it -- no mercy given, none required. There are many of you who could have had this talk with me, but this time it was my mom. Can you see in this picture where the path is? Do you see it? Off to the left is a tree with a white sign, there is the path.

I have to be honest with you. I had lost my joy sitting there for so long. I’ve never not had self-confidence. I’ve never lacked for self-confidence. Just ask my mom. But it’s amazing how little things can steal your joy? Distractions. Deficits. Uncertainty. I can assure you these things are not of Yahweh. God wants us to have joy. He is joy. He gives joy in the journey, but when you get stuck, you aren’t moving forward to see what is over the next hill or around the next bend, to see there’s a playground on which for you to swing and slide. When I was a kid, I would swing as high as I could and then jump. I had more skinned up knees in the first grade than anyone else. I was always in the school office after recess. I REALLY loved to swing, and I REALLY loved to go high. My dog even tried to swing. Who doesn’t love to swing, to feel the wind raising your hair, and to feel the breeze on your face?

Sorry, I tried to get this turned the correct way, but it just wouldn't work...much like Sunni and the swing

So since I’ve been confronted and prodded, I’ve realized it’s time for me to come out of the darkness. I want to be in the Light. If I fail, I fail, but I think the real failure is in the not trying.

I’ve been called to minister to women, to encourage women and to teach women. I’ve been called to show them Jesus and how to drink from the well that never runs dry. I know this to be true if I know anything at all. It wasn’t something I asked for, and it most certainly isn’t something I sought.

There will be things that will come up in our lives, in our walk with Christ. Sometimes they are meant to stop us from proceeding, and they are designed by God. Sometimes they are there for us to conquer, to go over. Sometimes we get distracted by the mountain we’ve made from the molehill. There is no obstacle that can’t be overcome if Jesus is leading you to it. Our confidence is to be in Him. We should be looking to Him for our confidence. It’s what I tell my daughter. Why didn’t I see this is where one of my issues was hiding?

I will be a fisher for women. Women bring life. Women nurture life. Women become depleted. Women who are hurt and need to be restored, I want to minister to them. Regardless of how hard the climb or how hard the journey, I will carry on.

In Christ alone my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

The Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Lyrics from Avalon’s In Christ Alone