Friday, December 28, 2012

A "Hill A Beans" of Difference

Do you know what I love to do?

Cut grass.

At our house, that's pretty much my established job.

There is something completely satisfying about cutting grass.

I can look behind me and see exactly where I've been.

And exactly what I've accomplished.

I don't have to tell you.  

There's not too many places in my life, where I can do that.

So.    It's the last few days of 2012.

And.......I'm doing what I do when I cut grass.

Glancing behind me.

To see where I've been.

Do you ever do that?

Not dwell on it.  
Or obsess about it.

But look back just long enough to see....

And ask.

Did my existence on the planet make a "hill a beans" of difference this year?

As a cancer survivor, I can tell you.  

The effectiveness and usefulness of my life is something I think about.

I want to make a difference with the time that I'm here.

Mostly, I just want to be someone Jesus can use in this world.

So, I'm looking back over my shoulder......just a little while today.

With some questions about this last year.

Did I make my time with Him a priority?

Did I offer forgiveness?

Was I willing to serve?

Did I have a hard conversation that's been a long time coming?

What was I willing to let go of this year?

Did I grow in understanding?

Who did I reach out to this year?

Did I depend on Him more?

Am I any different or changed at the end of this year, than I was when it started?


I wish the answers to those questions was as easy for me to distinguish as my grass cutting.

I have a feeling it is......for Him.

" I am preparing you for what is on the road ahead, just around the bend.
Take time to be still in My presence so that I can strengthen you.
The busier you become, the more you need this time apart with Me.
So many people think that time spent with Me is a luxury they cannot afford.
As a result, they live and work in their own strength -- until that becomes depleted.
Then they either cry out for help or turn away in bitterness.

How much better to walk close to Me,
depending on my strength and trusting Me in every situation.
If you live this way, you will do less but accomplish far more. 
Your unhurried pace of living will stand out in this rush crazed age.
Some people may deem you lazy, but many more
will be blessed by your peacefulness.
Walk in the light with Me, and you will reflect Me
to the watching world."

Sarah Young, "Jesus Calling."              

Isaiah 64:4  John 15:5  Psalm 36:9

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Favorite Gift Given & Received

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

My family did.  Christmas seemed to last longer this year.    Family visits were more
spread out.  For the first time in many years, we changed things up so that all we did on
Christmas Day was open presents, enjoy a long breakfast (blueberry stuffed french toast,
turkey bacon, fresh fruit & lots of coffee) and lounge around......until lunch time.....anyway.

Like you, I probably received much more than I needed for Christmas.   But I wanted to
share my favorite gift given and received.

My favorite gift given was this:

Yep.     A hot water bottle!   (with an Etsy purchased hot water bottle cover!)

I first discovered the huge benefits of a hot water bottle here:

When we stayed at Sweetwater Tented Camps on the last night of our trip to Kenya, we
came back from dinner at night with our bed turned down and a hot water bottle secretly
tucked away beneath the sheets.

Oh my!  In a tent and on a very cool evening, the hot water bottle (complete with a red
plaid cover) was heaven!

I vowed when I got home this year to buy one for myself.

Which I did.

(p.s. this one is made by a company called "fashy" - and it's terrific!)

And then I also bought and gave a few as Christmas gifts.   I'm telling you.   On a winter
evening, these hot water bottles are a treat!   and they stay warm long into the following

And my favorite gift received?

It was something my mom didn't have to go out and buy.   She pulled these treasurers out
of her cabinets and closets:

Handwoven baskets made by my grandma, Pauline.    A pair of scissors that belonged
to my grandpa, Wister.   A glass bowl that belonged to my grandma, Lila.  And a few other
pieces that belonged to my great-grandmother and others.

Pretty cool.

Hope all of you had as blessed a Christmas as i did.

I'll see you in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Intentional Time of Life

We all get busy in our lives, especially when we're raising our families.

It's fair to say - however, that my family raising days are now behind me.   I know a lot
of women that have a really hard time with that transition.  From being a day to day mom
in the trenches of raising a family -- to being a 40 or 50 something year old woman
with adult children.


When I got to this place in my life,  I wanted a couple of things.

I wanted to be an interesting person apart from my children.   Secretly, I wanted
my adult kids to find me such an interesting person that they wanted to spend time
with me.

I knew I didn't want to be the kind of parent that called and reminded my adult kids
how long it had been since they had been to see me.   I had visions they would call to
see if they could drop by and I would be busy............... sailing down the Nile River......

or biking across America.

Yeah,  I would sigh and say, "...oh honey, I'd love for you to come by, but your father and
I are on our way to Wyoming for the weekend.  

Or we're helping with a dolphin rescue operation off the coast of Florida.


But, no joke.     I want and plan to have a full and valuable life apart from my adult
children -- with my own interests and pursuits. is that going?

Over the last few years as my girls started leaving home and I started this
new season of life, God took this period of time in my life (that some might say
is marked by loss) and started adding relationships and friendships into my life.
He did.    That's one of the best things about following Him.   He looks out for me.
He knows what I  need....and He provides it.   

So, as He has added these relationships and people into my life, I've become
much more intentional.

Intentional about making time for and investing in relationships.

It's so easy not to do it!   It's sort of like making time for exercise.   I know I need
to do it.  I know it makes me a healthier person.    It doesn't happen without me
being I became more intentional this year about people.

I've started penciling in coffee dates.

I started setting up lunch dates.

I started making time for people that are important to me.

I've been catching up with old friends that I haven't seen for a while.

And new friends.

And what came from my quest to be intentional.   These wonderful people.

We pulled a reunion together this year - teammates from last November's Kenya trip;
I'm telling you.  You can have a bond for life with people you travel with!  

Dena is one of my oldest friends. Even though she moved away to Rock Hill,
we made time this year to meet & catch up. I think it was the first time in two or three years!
It was high time we did!  We'll be doing it more often now.

Heather is a kindred spirit I met on a Kenya trip.  Coffee dates or meeting up at church keeps us connected.

I fell in love with two Deese's this year - my son & law &  my Coffee Underground partner (Josh's sister) Julie.

I'm still meeting up with & keeping up with these girls; Amanda, Britt & Marissa;
we traveled to Kenya together three years ago.   They're wonderful.
My path crossed Chloe's in a way that only God could have arranged.
Another kindred spirit.

We worked together over 20 years & when she retired, I followed her to Ninety Six to stay in touch -
my  90 something year old friend , Martha Sligh.  I've learned a lot from this woman through the years!

It's funny.  My own children were leaving home so  I just "adopted" a few more, including  Melissa.
and James.

We traveled to Kenya together twice - roommates on my first trip.
Now, Karen & I meet at Starbucks whenever we can schedule it.
One of my favorite lunch dates this year was with my niece.  It was the first time she & I made time
for a meal & a visit with just the two of us.  It was great!

She's been part of my family for years & now we're watching her own family grow.
Time with the Kinney's & my great god-son, Grayson are the best.

I think it's natural to look at the future with uncertainty, maybe even a little fear.

What if we looked at the possibilities instead.

Here's what I believe.

I was an individual before my kids came along.  

I'm an individual now that they're grown.

Life can still be really good.    And valuable.      And abundant.

My family raising days may be behind me, but there's still people to invest in and people
to care about.     Shoot.     I think my best days are still ahead of me.

(Smile.)    And if I'm not here when you come by.......I may be trekking
in the Alaskan wilderness or more the bush of some remote African village.
Or, I may just be off being intentional with somebody over coffee.

Just tell my kids, I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Tired, Jet Lagged Mess

I've been a tired, jet lagged mess these last couple of days.

Just home for three days.  This time last week I was logging about four hours a day
on a big green bus, traveling on dirt roads out in the very remote bush of Kenya.  

I couldn't have been happier.

Our 18 member team from NewSpring Church worked in a small village called
Mbogoini.   We were the very first team from 410 Bridge to go into this area.

That was pretty cool.

It was the most beautiful land I've ever seen.

Everything you might imagine when you think of Africa.

Flat plains bordered by Mount Kenya.

Herds of goats & cattle.    Zebras.  Gazelles.   Acacia trees.

And a HUGE sky.   So beautiful.

The people of Mbogoini couldn't have been more welcoming and more loving to us.
Although very few of them spoke English, we managed with the help of our young

Over the course of our trip, we took on several projects.

We started the construction of a new school.

We loved on children.

Okay.   We loved on lots of children.

We led services in area churches.

We assisted in the school feeding program.

We washed dishes.

We played soccer.

We taught in the local school.

We trekked out on foot paths.

And did home visits.

A special moment for me was when one of the Masai women of the village took off her traditional Masai beaded necklaces and put them around my neck.  Wow!

Mainly, we focused on building relationships.     With the people of Mbogoini.

And with the people on our team.

I've made four trips to Kenya now over the last five years.   Every time I go, God
shows me something else about myself.    For me, it's like shining a flashlight onto my
good, bad & ugly.    Okay....not so much my good.

It's going to take some time to think through what my lessons were from this trip.
Some I've already seen.    Others are going to take a while longer.

More than three days for sure.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Freaking Out Stage!

Just days out from leaving for Kenya, I'm approaching the "out of body" freaking out
stage of the trip preparation....when it hits me that....OH MY GOSH, I'm getting on
a plane & flying to AFRICA!

I know.    I've been before, but it NEVER gets familiar.  And for sure, it never gets

I got most of my packing done today.  Vowing to go lighter and inspired by my friend,
Stacy Williams's impressive packing for this trip in a single carry on bag last year!

Some of my essentials:

a bag of miniature dark chocolates
a head lamp Kate gave me for my last trip
malaria pills
mini disposable tooth brushes
Cliff bars

Going "lighter" may mean leaving these behind -  the 5 lb. rain boots that pushed
my luggage over the weight limit last year.   My roommate, Jennifer, had to carry
some of my souvenirs home in her bag because of these boots!

And, yes, I'll make an art project out of about anything, including plain ole rubber Army
green mud boots from Wal-Mart!

The motto of NewSpring Kenya trips is "BE FLEXIBLE."     A necessary motto for the trip
(and come to think of it, a pretty good one for life too.)   We'll be flying from Atlanta to
Amsterdam in about 9 hours -- and then from Amsterdam to Nairobi in a little over 8 hours.
We'll stay in Nairobi one night - and drive 4 or 5 hours the next morning to our mission site.

The bus ride is FUN!    You can see why.  This was our ride last year.


We'll be serving in a village NewSpring has never been before, so excited to see a totally
new area.   It's called Mbogoini.   In Mbogoini, we'll be working on the construction of a
nursery school,  preparing & serving lunch at the local school,  speaking at the local
churches, doing home visits (hut visits),  teaching in the school & playing and loving
on the kids.

How cool is that?

I wanted to take this blog opportunity to also say "thank you."

People have been extremely generous to me in providing support for this trip,
especially those of you that participated in my mosaic raffle.  

Jim & Patty Stafford won the raffle a few months ago.  I had checks from friends who
live as far away as Hawaii, Texas & England - as close as Georgia & North Carolina
- and even my old stompin ground of Pumpkintown, Cleveland & Pickens!   That
raffle provided a big chunk of money for the trip.    Without your help, I wouldn't
be going.  Thank you so much!

I know you may also promised to pray for our team.   I hope you will!  
Our team is small (only 18) - but I can tell already, it's going to be a great group.
Thanks for prayers for Jake, Matthew W., Kara, Melody, Lindsay, me, Scott, Josh D.,
Josh G., Brenna, Tracey, Tommy, Ali, Donna, Amy, Matthew G., Mona & Stephen.

Scott is so uncomfortable flying, so he's been praying in detail ('s bordering on
obsessive)....for the mechanics who work on our planes, the pilots, the hydraulic lines, the
landing gear....even the bolts & wings! -- he's probably prayed for the air traffic controllers
when I wasn't listening!    Bless his heart.    He's an antsy passenger!

I have sweet people in my life that are also stepping up to take care of my house, feed
my animals, walk my dog & cover my office so I can be away.  Good people!
They know who they are!   Each of you are giving me peace of mind to leave -- and
that's a huge gift.

I'm also leaving my girls to scrounge for a Thanksgiving Day meal, but Becca Chain
and my mama are looking out for them, so I know they're in good hands!

I know I have people in my life (and, no, mom, you're not the only one)  who have a hard
time understanding why I want to keep going to Africa.

I have to say.

I can't even image my life without it.

See you when I get back!