Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trouble



We all have times of trouble.

Yes?

A few months ago, I would have told you that truck loads of blessings

were being dumped on my life.

And, trust me.

I know that's a fortunate season of time when it comes.

I recognized it.    I appreciated it.    I enjoyed every moment of it.

And.........

I kept one eye slightly squinted, waiting on what I knew would also come.

Eventually, it always does.

Trouble.

That's just part of living.

I've often struggled with what the bible teaches about trouble.

That we should be thankful in times of trouble.

That's been hard for me to do.

I do get the reason behind it.

Trouble causes me to realize my need for Jesus.

There's nothing like a big dose of trouble to push me closer to Him.

So.......I'm visual.

And when I came across this passage in my devotional recently
about trouble, I pictured it as I read:

"  If you encounter a problem with no immediate solution, 
your response to that situation
will take you either up or down.

You can lash out at the difficulty,
resenting it and feeling sorry for yourself.
This will take you into a pit of self pity.




Alternatively, the problem can be a ladder,
enabling you to climb up and see your life
from My perspective.

Viewed from above, the obstacle that frustrated you
is only a 

light 


and 


momentary 


trouble.

Once your perspective has been heightened,
you can look away from the problem altogether.

Turn toward Me, 
and see the light of my presence shining upon you."

April 26  "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.




So......in my mind,
I climbed the ladder of my trouble.
I tried viewing it from His perspective.

And, it's true.
Whether trouble.
hardship.
or trial.
From that perspective.
it improves.


"for our present troubles are small and won't last very long.
yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.
so don't look at the troubles we can see now;
rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.
for the things we see now will soon be gone,
but the things we cannot see will last forever."   2 Corinthians 5: 17-18.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Me as an old woman

I'm beginning to wonder what I might be like as an old woman.

With more years behind me, than I do in front of me.
I've started thinking about it more.

Me....as an old woman.

What will that look like?



I decided, this is the old woman I want to be.


She captures what I desire to be.

Completely.  

A natural......pleasing...... "joyful"...... face.  



I'd like to have the spunk of Jessica Tandy.




and the wisdom and story telling gift of Maya Angelou.




When I think of me as and old woman,

one part of me wants to wear aprons and raise chickens.





and live in an old farmhouse with a tin roof........ and big front porch.



and visit with my girls and my friends over morning coffee and bare feet.




and enjoy quiet afternoons over a cup of tea and a book.




My mode of transportation?  

Definitely an old  pick up truck...





and a wide seat bike :)




When I think of me as an old woman,

I'd want my eyes to show the love I've seen.


And my face to reveal the smiles I've made.




When I think of me as an old woman, 

I'll still work to stay in shape.



Still walk.....



Still create.....


Still live out my faith.



When I think of me as an old woman,



I'll still be wearing bright colors...


And a scarf with everything.





I'll be the cool "bah boo" that my grandchildren always want to come and see.





Surrounded by a cat or two or three.




When I think of me as an old woman,

I hope to still be journeying to Africa.


Drawn to the people and the land.



But always ready to come back home........to a gaggle of critters waiting for me.





and the love of my man to comfort me.


That's what I think of.

When I think about me as an old woman.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Encounters with the Enemy




Scripture tells us that the enemy's purpose is to "steal, kill and destroy."
John 10:10.

It's easy to look around everyday and see evidence of evil in our world.
The bombings in Boston.    Sex trafficking.     Genocide.     Abuse.

This world can be a very dark place.

While the enemy clearly works in the "bigger" picture of our society,
I also see evidence that he's at work in a much closer and more personal way
-in and around my life.


I've seen him tear apart the families of people I care about.

I've seen him in the drug and alcohol addictions that rob my friends and
loved ones of their lives.

I've seen him steal peace, promote bitterness,  ignite fear and instill insecurities.

When I see prejudice, I see him.  

When I see cheating and infidelity, I see him.

When I see suffering and abuse and neglect, I see him.

Scripture says "Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around,
like a lion, looking for someone to devour."   1 Peter 5: 8


That's one of the things I ask God to give me -- the ability to recognize the enemy
when he's coming against me.

And the thing I learned a while back?

He knows where I'm vulnerable.

He knows where I'm weak.......and it's there, he attacks.




He whispers doubt over me.

"will God really protect your children?"

"can you really trust Jesus?"

"do you think He really hears your prayers?"


He speaks discouragement over me.

"you're not smart enough"

"why do you even try?"

"what do you have to offer anybody?"


He whispers fear over me.

"you're going to lose that loved one."

"your cancer will come back....it's just a matter of time."

"you will fail."


That's how the enemy comes against me.

But.    And I say this cautiously.  God is helping me to recognize the enemy
when he speaks these things over my life.

I've asked Him to give me that discernment.

1 Peter 5: 9   reminds me to "Stand firm against the enemy, and be strong
in your faith."

When I recognize the doubt, the discouragement or the fear, I call it out for
what it is and I ask God to help me.

The enemy would have me believe that God is not trustworthy - and that
the life  He wants for me can't be as good as the life I might live apart from Him.

The verse I hang onto is from Jeremiah 29:11:

"for I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for 
good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.   In those days 
when you pray, I will listen.   If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will 
find me."

All I have to do is keep looking to Him.

And when doubt, discouragement and fear are spoken over me.

I will find Him.

If you're hearing that doubt, that discouragement and fear spoken over your
life,  call it out for what it is.

And look to Him.

"I will be found by you," says the Lord.

We will find Him.










Friday, April 19, 2013

Straight Up Parenting Genius


Who would have thought,

that one of my proudest parenting moments.

In all the years of mothering my girls.

Would come from the simple image you see above.

A janitor's closet.

Yep.  

There among the trash bags, the mops and window cleaner.

That's where it happened.

Kate was starting her sophomore year at Clemson.

A member of the Women's Rowing Team.

She was given an opportunity to move in one day early that fall.

With one stipulation.

She must join her teammates in helping incoming Freshmen on "move in" day.

Simple.   Straightforward.    Tote refrigerators & comforters.

Pillows and mini-frig's.

Okay...

So, Kate moved in one day early.

And the next morning?

Well......

She wasn't feeling the whole Freshman move in thing so much.

Nahh......just not feeling it.

So......

She didn't help.

Like me, you might be surprised.

That anybody really noticed.

Clemson's a big school, right?

And Freshman move in day is pretty chaotic.

Cars parked everywhere.

Masses of parents and students in and out.

Did anyone really notice that she didn't show?

Well.....

As it turned out......yes.

Why yes, they did.

Not only did they notice.

They took quite a bold step.

They mailed her mama and daddy.

That would be "us."

An invoice.

A $100 fine for moving in one day early.

And......not helping as she had agreed.

Sophomore, Kate Dublin.

Student.   Unemployed.   No source of income.

My kid.

Staring blankly at the invoice.

My mouth hung open.

I asked my sweet husband.

"What should we do?"

"Kate doesn't have the money to pay this!?"

"And I can promise you, I don't think we should HAVE to pay it!?"

My sweet husband.

My sweet, "enabling" husband.

He showed the same grace to Kate that he offers so freely to me.

"It's not a big deal," he says.

"She's a good kid."

"Just send them a check."

(Silence)

Just send them a check?

JUST SEND THEM  A CHECK?????

I can only describe what happened next as a stroke of mother genius!

A plan so diabolical and perfect, no father would ever consider it!

It hit me in a flash.

"Heck no, I'm not sending them a check!" I said.

"I know what to do!"

And yes.

I did what any self-respecting, non-enabling, genius mother would do.

I called the housing department at my dear alma mater.

And I asked if Kate could "work off" her $100 debt to Clemson University.

What wonderful, insightful (CLEARLY parents themselves) staff worked there.

"Yes," they said.

"We can work that out."

"Just have Kate report to our office after class this week."

And I did.

She hardly blinked an eye and went straight away.

Thinking perhaps she might have to sit at a desk or monitor a dorm lobby.

hehehe......(smile)

No.

Instead, those insightful.

creative people.

At the Housing Department at Clemson.

They assigned my daughter to the custodial team on campus.

Yep.

The custodial team.

Those wonderful, under appreciated people who clean up after football games.

Who keep the bathrooms tidy and the paper towel dispensers filled.

That.........hard working team.

It was a proud moment.

I won't lie.

Just the thought of it brings a smile to my face!

Justice!

She worked off her $100 early move in fine.

Picking up trash.

Cleaning up after her classmates.

Working side by side.

With the custodial crew across campus.

Kate on a custodial crew golf cart.

Trash bags in tow.

Waving to her friends.

Who were........

No doubt a little confused.

Ahhh..........

Some things just linger on long after they have passed.

This memory has for me!

One of my best mother moments.

Ever!

And on a more serious note.

Why do we think that we ever do our kids a favor by protecting them from
consequences......and hardship?

And no.

I'm not throwing stones, here.

Remember.....she was in college before I fully figured this one out.

We don't do our kids any favors by swooping in to work out their
problems.    Or smooth things over for them.

Or to send in a check to cover their mistakes.

Sometimes.

They may just need to climb on a golf cart.

Swing a bag of trash over their shoulder.

And.....

well, you know the rest.











Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rain


Rain.

I love to walk in it.

I love to watch it.

I love the sound of it.

I love to stretch my hands out in it.

I love the idea that it's watering all living things.

Including me.

One really warm day last summer, we'd been without rain for a some time.

Then it started to pour.

I quietly slipped out into the backyard with a wide brimmed hat.

Sat down in one of our Adirondack chairs.

I put my face to the sky

and let it drench me.

It felt amazing!

(never mind my family gathered at the door and looked at me like I
 had four heads.)

I didn't care.

It felt wonderful!

That memory has carried with me for months.

Just as rain has touched me physically.

It's also teaching me spiritually.

I am finding that God sometimes speaks to me in "themes."

Has that ever been true for you?

For some time, He's been speaking to me about rain.

Every time I turn around, I'm seeing rain used in scripture.

Or in a sermon at church.

Even more recently in a bible study I just finished.

And the meaning for me?

I'm listening and paying attention to what He's trying to show me.

Here's one cool example.

Splashing!


Beth Moore shared once in a teaching that we all splash on others in
our lives.

We literally go around throughout our day, splashing on everybody we encounter.

It created an immediate visual for me.

Splashing on other people in our lives.

And made me consider.

What do I splash?

Do I splash encouragement?

or do I unintentionally splash discouragement?

Do I splash bitterness?

or do I splash love?

Am I splashing any unforgiveness on others?

Or am I splashing acceptance?

We're all splashing something.

Rain.   Splashing.

I'm paying attention.

And I'm listening.

Cause there's a message directly for me in it.

And I don't want to miss it.



































Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Comfort

I was thinking tonight about the things in my life that bring me comfort.

I have these shabby (okay - and a little dirty) slip on sneakers from Old Navy.
And yes.  I feel you judging me now.   They look a little shabbier
on camera --- but......they are SO comfortable!


I love my home.   When I walk up to my backdoor at the end of the day,
it's warm and inviting.  I feel safe.  I feel  total comfort inside this door.



And without a doubt, I find "comfort" in my favorite foods.  I enjoyed this one
tonight.

A bowl of cheese grits!



There are others.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Chicken Corn Chowder Soup.    

Cornbread drizzled in honey.

Goodness!

And one of my favorites - especially in the morning.

A cup of coffee with my hazelnut creamer.  Pure comfort!



Without a doubt, I find comfort in relationships -- especially with my family.   Scott
brings me a ton of comfort.



I used to think that God must be all about my comfort.

That is His goal, right??

That I be without fear.....without uneasiness......without risk.

That I be totally and completely comfortable.

I'm afraid the answer to that is sadly, "no."

Well, maybe not "sadly, no."

More like.     HECK NO!

I don't believe God is concerned at all with my "comfort."

He's more interested in me being "useful" to Him.

And available.

Don't get me wrong.

I do need and enjoy comfortable things in my life.

I just don't need to cling to and hang onto those things,

at the expense of following Him.

To those places.

To those situations.

In those conversations.

and opportunities that He brings across my path.

That STRETCH ME and make me feel uneasy.

I spent a good many years of my life protecting myself from risk.

Comfort was my goal for a very long time.

It was what I wanted most.

I never considered that always playing it safe.

Avoiding what made me afraid.

Fearful.

Anxious.

Uneasy.

Would actually be the very thing.

The very thing.

That 
sucked 
all 
the 
satisfaction 
and 
joy
from 
my 
life.

I wish you could learn from my mistakes.

As I talk to women.

I hear so many of them talk about FEAR.

I'm afraid to open up and share myself with others.

I'm afraid to move from my hometown.

I'm afraid to go that far from home.

I'm afraid to leave that job.

I'm afraid to end that relationship.

I'm afraid to confront that person.

I'm afraid to fly that far.

I'm afraid.

Many times, fears become paralyzing.

Fears keep us stuck.

Fears keep us from fulfilling the very purpose we were put on
planet earth to accomplish.

From really doing the thing.

Living life.

Living the life that God wants to provide for us.

I wish I could get you to see.

My mistake.

But I understand.

I had to find it out on my own, too.

Taking more risks.

Being willing to be uncomfortable and uneasy.

It has transformed my life.

No exaggeration.

It has given me life.

Without a doubt...... a more abundant life.

All I did was start.

I did what was uncomfortable.

God provided me greater strength.

I did what made me uneasy.

God provided me greater courage.

Now?

I don't blink at getting on a plane and flying to the other side of the world.

I discovered an amazing thing.

Facing my fears did not kill me.

It's there, I FOUND life.

On the other side of my fear.

And so can you.

There's plenty I don't know.

But this one?

I got it!

I'm not ever going back.