Today is a Gift

Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.  -Mother Teresa

Ignore the black shirt I’m wearing in this post. I’m in the same shirt on Facebook a couple of times in the past week, with different accessories. It’s a comfortable shirt.

And I like comfortable.

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We passed this bus last week on our way to Waco. With its red flames in our rear view mirrors, we said we should have taken a picture of it.

Shoulda coulda woulda.

My life is full of those.

I had a terrible dream two nights ago. It was vivid and powerful. Sharing it is somewhat weird because the dream was seriously depressing. I have no idea why I dream so dreadfully, but I do.  I have a Stephen King sort of mind. (I have no idea whether or not I should be making that comparison. I’ve never read or seen anything of his. I just know he’s creepy……My dreams are creepy).
In my dream Jason and I were in an unfamiliar church in a small room getting ready for Sunday School. We were with a boy and a man who I assumed to be the boy’s father.
Another man walked in and approached us talking in a way that I quickly knew we were going to die at his hand. I looked at Jason for direction. Should we run? Should I say something about Jesus? Beg for my life?  


I wasn’t ready to die and I knew that it was likely that my choices at this point were of little consequence.


A single thought then overwhelmed me. Surprisingly it WASN’T the things I’d miss out on in the event of my untimely death. l wasn’t thinking about not seeing Hayden graduate. I wouldn’t see Hallie or Rylie get married, but that’s not what I was thinking of either. My heart wasn’t even broken at the fact that I hadn’t gotten to say goodbye to all those I love.
Rather than thinking of my dying, I was thinking about my living. I remember in facing death there was sorrow in all things I had not done that I’d had the chance to do. -Days I had taken for granted in my living for Friday, comfortable black shirt kind of lifestyle.

Lets’ face it. How many lackadaisical days are near empty of worship while I live life according to my own good and self-pleasing will? Is my service faithful? Is my living well done?

Three hundred sixty-five days on repeat I wake up, eat some food, do some stuff, speak to some people and then hit the pillow and think about doing the same thing again. Sure some prayers are strewn in, in thankfulness, adoration and desperation. But those prayers tend to be more about me and in my timing than about an almighty God who is worthy of my everything.
In my dream I was about to lose my life but the thing I cared the most about was how I’d lived all the days that had been “written in (His) book”.


We’re not promised tomorrow. Not promised it here anyway. Today is the only thing we have control of.


This dream weaved a big thought. 

Regret in a fair sense is not what you’re going to miss, but rather what you’ve missed in all the days you were GIVEN. Regret isn’t intended to bring about  shame, but rather gratitude in another chance and hope that we’ll do better with that chance.

Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust and ambition look ahead.

C.S. Lewis

I tell the kids; the only good thing about bad dreams is that they’re only dreams.

You wake from them.

Hopefully when they’re particularly sobering you literally and FIGURATIVELY wake from them.


At least for now, I’m awake.


Jason and I had several days with our schedules cleared which made room for a clearer mind. We worshiped at our first church and met with other believers at the BGCT convention.

unnamed (110) Jason and I broke (a lot) of bread (including West’s famous kolaches) with four of FBC’s most awesome ladies.

unnamed (111) I spent time with some of my dearest friends. Last night we were moved by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy (the people who inspired The blind Side)to live a life of giving.
The past few days I was able to rest and experience God’s goodness in slower motion.  Through that rest and a sobering dream, I’M AWAKE.


I want to stay awake.

As we headed back home, the red flames adorning the”On Fire for Jesus”bus were in our rear view mirror again. This time we looked back after we’d stopped and got a picture.  And this time I looked back without regret because, just maybe,  I found my fire again.


Or at least a desire for it.
God will take care of the rest.


…Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably (each day that we’re given) with reverence and awe, for “our God is a consuming fire”. Hebrews 12:28-29

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Peace for Your Pouting

Cling to what is good
Cling to what is good

This is a picture of me; being nice…and happy.  That isn’t what this post is about. I’m talking about something shameful and regrettable.

I pouted yesterday; a great big drawn-out out audible pout. You might could even use the word “fit”. Something didn’t go my way. Well, the whole day didn’t go my way, and then late yesterday afternoon I just went stupid.

The worst part?

Hallie was sitting right beside me listening to me carry on. I complained incessantly like a broken record replaying a single bad tune. My episode reminded me of the only spanking I fully remember getting as a child. I think I’ve written about that before, but for any therapeutic value there might in it be for me, I’ll recount the episode again.

My older sister always got the best jobs at home. One of mine was to dust the 489 figurines my mom had on shelves that covered one fourth of the living room, like I was Cinderella or something. I had to set the table for meals too. Vicki got to help cook, but not me, even though I wanted to. (That’s probably why I can’t cook, Mom!)   And so one evening instead of setting the table, I shared my displeasure with everybody in the house, for about fifteen minutes. Until my dad made me stop. (The End.)

I’m the strong-willed kiddo in my family. –Which can be good if your will is for good. Jason and I have a strong-willed one who I’m hoping won’t have a terrible struggle with peer pressure. She’s determined. Positive determination is good. The problem comes for stubborn people when something they work to make happen, doesn’t happen and they just. can’t. get. over. it.

Despite preparation and passion, sometimes things still don’t turn out the way you want them to.

It’s reasonable to be disappointed. But I was reminded last night by my own show, that the display of our disappointment matters.

My display was regrettable.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

My unwholesome word count was longer than this post.

At some point during blustery, cold last night I resolved to pray. It probably started out as an ugly prayer, if there is such a thing. But the prayer quickly turned to desperation knowing I needed divine intervention. And I vowed to do the impossible……to be quiet…..

while I waited for God to do his work in me.

Faithful, like he is, he took my ugliness and replaced it with peace and perspective.

I share this with you because it’s God story; bad news meets Good News again.

Disappointment calls for a prayer appointment.

You will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you; because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6

Pray always.

Especially when you’re pouty

 

 

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Up Creek; When parenting is down right scary

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

2 Corinthians 4:1

I came across a picture cleaning my bathroom yesterday. Don’t ask why me it was in the bathroom. It was in a pile of pictures including some pictures my mom took this past Spring Break when we spent the week back home.

The Duffau River in the picture runs behind my parent’s house…..I say “runs”. More accurately, the part of the Duffau behind my parent’s house is a riverbed with small pools of water. It’s pretty awesome having a riverbed behind your house. It’s like having a built-in patio. And unlike the tall grass on a river’s edge, the dry riverbed isn’t all that inviting to rattlesnakes and chiggers.

Through the years the riverbed has been a gathering place for my family.  The menfolk do feats of courage and the women folk watch and shake their heads. This past Spring the young menfolk were made to think that honor could be earned by jumping into the frigid water. The earlier in succession, the more honor.

Hayden gained a lot of honor this past trip. Feeling rather invincible after being warmed by a camp fire, he grabbed me up and proceeded to walk back over to the water’s edge as if to dump me in. Knowing that protesting wasn’t going to help I just held on for dear life. My mom, as you can see, had the camera instead of my back.

Looking back, that was a fun day. For the record, Hayden wised up and didn’t drop me in the water. But as I looked at this picture yesterday a title instantly popped into my head.

Up Creek

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Because it was up creek. And as I notice the white knuckles and look of terror, I regrettably say that this picture quite resembles that up creek “in trouble” kind of feeling we parents find ourselves in some days.

There are days when parenting is tough. The kids refuse one too many times to perform simple tasks like flushing the toilet or closing the car door or being courteous to their sister or brother all before you leave the house at 7:45 AM.   As difficult as it is to say, our kids disappoint. We catch them in a lie or they blatantly disobey us.

We disappoint them too. And they let us know. There are days of friction and days when we lose our head. We don’t let them go to that movie they were wanting to see; the one EVERYBODY else is going to see. We compare them to their brother, or their sister.  “Your sister has a much harder time with that, but at least she works hard at it”. We do it even though we know better.

And even on days when both we and our children have pretty much done it right, there are forces outside our control that make for difficult days. Our kid suffers the actions of a thoughtless kid (or adult) and we have no idea how to go about bettering the situation. Do we email the teacher?  Try and diffuse the situation?

I can’t tell you how many days we’ve struggled through one of those violent twenty-four hour stomach viruses with a trash basket and Sprite that won’t stay down.  There’s little you can do to bring comfort to your kids sometimes.

There are days a peck on the cheek won’t help and a band aid won’t fix it.

If only it were single days that parenting is tough. Sometimes we find ourselves in an entire season where parenting is out-right daunting; a season where time stands still and hope seems to move on ahead, nearly out of reach.

Finding ourselves up creek can be terrifying.

Having one of those “inquiring minds want to know” kind of minds, I wondered to myself where the term “up creek” comes from.

Come to find out, there’s an actual creek, Haslar Creek in Portsmouth Harbor where wounded sailors were taken. “Up creek” was a Royal Naval Hospital where sailors in need of medical help were taken by tramline. Word has it that some tried to escape but found themselves “up creek without a paddle”. I’m not making this stuff up. Just ask Wiktionary.

Days up creek without a paddle

Marooned like those sailors, we occasionally wish we could, with Enya, “Sail away, sail away, sail away”….at least for a weekend getaway.

We’re stranded vessels; mom-shaped containers overflowing with fix-it methods, hugs and instructions, guidance and the recipe for their favorite cookies. And at the same time we often feel empty and worn out and without a clue; damaged like those sailors as Haslar Creek.

Like those sailors, we’re at a place where there’s help. Lucky for us, we have a God bigger than the universe that is able and willing to station himself up creek right with us on hard days.

Up creek is right where we find the help we need.

 2 Corinthians 4: 7{You see},  we have this treasure in earthen vessels,

And it’s in times of great fatigue and failings that the treasure is revealed.

We find ourselves without a paddle to steer us.

 {But in time we’ll experience}…. this all-surpassing power {that} is of God and not from ourselves;

{At times} 8we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed

And for seasons that we’re stranded, a sea away from safety and answers, we’re never without a guide.

Reminds me of a song.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
a tale of a fateful trip,
that started from this tropic port,
aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailin’ man,
the Skipper brave and sure,
five passengers set sail that day,
for a three hour tour,
a three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
the tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
the Minnow would be lost.
The Minnow would be lost.

-Gilligan’s Island Theme Song

Be fearless.  Be sure. We’re never in this alone.

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father 1 Thessalonians 1:3

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Thankful Table

 

One of the areas where I score low on the woman card is preparing for and engaging in celebrations.

-she sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks (Proverbs 31:17)

Sometimes I wish there was a Proverbs 32, for the woman who can’t seem to get it together but REALLY has it going on in her mind.

I started to get this mess going by typing out, “I like celebrations” or something or other, but really, honestly?….. I’m not sure preparing or attending celebrations are my thing. I actually love hanging out with people.  Talking is my thing.

But gatherings, the kind with a lot of people, make me feel anxious. I find the sound receptors in my ears doing a dizzying dance trying to block out conversations while tuning in to the one I’m supposed to be having. And then there’s the food that we always find at celebrations. I’ve always found Christmas parties awkward as you try to arrange microscopic piles of food; making sure that you get a little bite of everything lest you hurt the feelings of the one who brought the fruit salad. And all of this when what I really want to do is take the entire bowl of chips and La Suprema salsa that someone brought and go eat it in a corner without fear that someone will be watching how I eat chips and salsa. It’s not pretty.

While we’re on the subject of Christmas parties, I might as well go ahead and divulge my true feelings about the  “Christmas Ornament” swap/game.

  1. I usually want the ornament I brought. I wouldn’t have picked it out if I didn’t like it.
  2. If somebody else picks out the ornament I brought, I worry whether or not they’ll like it so I try to start a conversation with someone beside me avoiding watching the person who’s opening the ornament. Because if they make a fake smile or comment I’ll know. And as ridiculous as it is (I’m not in fifth grade anymore) it will bother me if they don’t find my ornament awesome.
  3. If my ornament is not stolen, it means in my eyes that it was a dud. So basically, if I get my ornament, I don’t want you to steal it from me.  But it would make me feel good if you stole my ornament from somebody else.  That’s messed up, I know. Ornament Swap parties bring out the worst in me.
  4. I don’t know why I get so worked up about ornaments because my tree, like my house at Christmas, is no big whoop.

I didn’t mean to get off on Christmas. And by the way, I’m truly grateful to those who fix finger foods and doll their house up. Really, I am.  And I’m partly exaggerating about my party anxiety. December is just so busy, it makes me anxious. Plus, my mom and many of my friends rock at all things Christmas and I don’t. Period.

That’s why I’d rather talk about Thanksgiving and the noteworthy thing my friend and neighbor does with her family every year. My friend, I believe, is gifted in preparing  inspiring celebrations. Last year I learned that she buys a tablecloth for every Thanksgiving. She decorates the table and has the family write on the tablecloth something that they’re thankful for every day. I love this idea.

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So I bought a tablecloth at WalMart yesterday. It was less than ten bucks. Not a fan of ironing, I threw it in the dryer with the jeans or something and attempted to smooth out the fold lines. I threw it on the table with a bowl of Pink Lady apples, ready to be thankful. The bowl really could have used a cycle of jet dry and the apples will probably be gone tomorrow. But I had me a “Thankful Table”.

I had planned to finish the laundry and then cook some stew that we could eat while gratefully gathered together, but after an afternoon with a surprise vet visit, meetings and forgotten homework our first meal of thankfulness didn’t go as planned. Ready stew was left on the burner with a sleeve of crackers and help yourself instructions to the kids as I left the house on mission. Thankfully I’d had the kids write their first “thankful words” at lunch; my personal favorite being Pokemon.

So here I sit this morning, attempting to wrap my mind around “The Thankful Table”.

I have a pretty amber-looking vase that I could fill with some stemmed pine cones.  I imagine they would look perfect on the table. I intended on getting that vase to the table yesterday, but for now the table is simple. Sometimes our expression of thankfulness is simple. Sometimes that’s appropriate.

The tablecloth I bought yesterday already has a stain on it. Tomato-based. But here’s the thing. Either it will wash out or it will serve as a reminder that our mess-ups against a grace covering can be strangely beautiful.

Some expressions of thankfulness at our table are written in large bold letters much like a declaration. They’re share worthy. Other thankful thoughts are sweetly unintelligible  and can only be shared with God; the only one who truly understands.

We wrote our “thankful words” yesterday and this morning somehow the table seems underwhelming. I have it in my mind that such space deserves to be filled with gratefulness. And so it should be in life. Daily.

Our “Thankful Table” is being designed as an offering. But once again, I’ve decided, that God in His loving-kindness is always the one who gives.

Our acknowledgement of his worthiness matters more than feeble or failed attempts at thankfulness.

May our “Thankful Table never be empty, and never be thought full enough.

Though our Thankful Table may sometimes be simple, may we always long for deeper and more beautiful hearts of thanks.

Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name

God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Hallelujahs be multiplied.

-Mulitplied by  Needtobreathe

 

Life is blunderful.  Give thanks.

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The Labor of Love; It Carries On

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 If you were a boat, my darling
A boat, my darling
I’d be the wind at your back
If you were afraid, my darling
Afraid, my darling
I’d be the courage you lack

If you were a bird, then I’d be a tree
And you would come home, my darling, to me
If you were asleep, then I’d be a dream
Wherever you are, that’s where my heart will be

-The Boat Song JJ Heller

 

I boastingly announced to Hayden last night that this time eighteen years ago, I was in labor with him. I have an honor badge, with him more than the others, that I pull out the night of October 28 annually. I started labor contractions that were consistently around ten minutes the night of the twenty-eighth. We were at a revival at the Baptist church in Iredell. The contractions stayed the same all that night.

They came like clockwork the twenty-ninth too. I sent Jason on to work hoping that as soon as I sent him, he’d have to come back. I taught Mission Friends that afternoon grimacing from discomfort every few minutes. By that evening I was fed up. I took a walk down the dirt road at my parent’s house with my nephew, Brent. It wasn’t an enjoyable walk. I was on a mission. I wanted that baby to be born.

My mom had made hot dogs for us and I remember taking my frustration out on my frankfurter. Usually a plain Jane hot dog eater, I squirted an unreasonable amount of mustard on the dog. And I ate it tauntingly. The mustard, I believe, responded accordingly as my contractions shortly thereafter intensified. Jason and I headed to the hospital, bags in the back, for what turned out to be a long night.

By this time I had already been in labor for twenty-four hours. I was having hard contractions every two to three minutes but wasn’t progressing as I needed to. They had broken my water and used other measures such as Pitocin to move things along. But unbeknownst to us, this baby, whose sex we did not know, was NOT in a hurry. God love him, he’s still that way.

Jason watched the paper roll as it charted each and every contraction with a black jagged mountain. I remember a few times him saying “That wasn’t a bad one”. (So wrong…) There are no good ones. Finally, the morning of the thirtieth, our dark-headed bright-eyed boy entered the world taking his first breath.

I remember being overcome at the instant connection I had with the wrinkly, blinking face that looked right at me like, “I know who you are, I’m here.”.

I also remember Jason’s acclaiming statement.

Oh honey, I’d do that all over again.

……………………………………………………….

After safe seconds had passed, the doctor told Jason he was lucky he hadn’t gotten slapped to which the nurses laughed knowingly. It’s funny though, despite my just having gone through the worst pain I have ever encountered in my life, I knew that I would. Holding that bundle that was crafted for MY arms, I would gladly do that all over again. Maybe without the mustard and maybe I’d convince the doctor to give me the epidural earlier so that I might have enjoyed it for more than ten minutes before birth. Just maybe.

But then again, pain was part of that beautiful mystery I held in my arms.

Hayden turns eighteen tomorrow. And much unlike the labor pains, those years have passed so very fast. Like the jagged highs and lows of contractions mapped out on paper, so have been the days. Laughter and happy times mixed with sorrow and times of difficulty. And always, always joy and anticipation of what is to come.

So now I’ll continue to answer your SOS texts while they come.

I’ll fix your favorite dinner while you sit at the table.

I’ll, to your dislike, ask if you’ve studied for that “Moisture in the Atmosphere” exam.

I’ll shake my head when you come back into the house two seconds after you leave because you forgot something.

I’ll fill my morning hours with boxes of pictures of you with the smile that was so big, your cheeks squeezed your eyes shut.

I’ll try not to begrudge those days past.

I, without hesitation, would do it all over again, but these todays are equally beautiful.

And splendid days are yet to come.

Am I sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

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Image Bearer; A Story of a Boy

 
A letter to my son

It’s just days before you turn eighteen. I’ll refrain from all the mushy clichés because I have a story to tell you. I know, I know. I’ve told you this story before. But I didn’t tell you how it ends.

So God created mankind in his own image

{Mankind wasn’t intended to resemble dad or mom, those folks who work tirelessly to bring up mini versions of their best self. You may have your mother’s smile and sarcasm and your dad’s handsome features and easy way of remembering the time line of history, but you were designed to reflect one greater },

in the image of God he created them. Genesis 1:27

    Circa October 2002

It was picture day at school. I had a cute blue button-up shirt picked out for you for first grade pictures. Barring a stubborn incident with the cowlick on the backside of your head, it was shaping up to be an easy morning.

That was until we looked for the cumpulsory white undershirt you were accustomed to wearing. A plain white T-shirt was nowhere to be found. After tearing through the shirt drawer I decided on a white shirt that your Ma had made for you with an iron-on image of you fishing in Colorado.

This white t-shirt was wrinkled and the picture was faded and peeling slightly from my over-drying it (when it probably was never intended to see the inside of a washing machine or dryer).

You put on the t-shirt and then slipped on the blue collared over-shirt. You came to breakfast with your over-shirt unbuttoned looking quite satisfied with yourself. I looked disapprovingly and told you that the undershirt didn’t need to show. “You need to button your shirt,” I told you. You protested, but I stood firm (being the “stickler of trivial matters” that I am).

Ushering you into Chilton Elementary, I gave you a quick squeeze and reminded you to say “Cheese!”.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    Several weeks later you shuffled into my classroom with an envelope stuffed in your backpack. I took out the envelope and looked eagerly. There you were, sunshine against a mottled gray background.

Do you love that the shirt says PROOF?!  Haha. Busted.
Do you love that the shirt says PROOF?! Haha. Busted.

You were UNBUTTONED

…. with no trace of self reproach. Like a little Fonz, you looked cool,…. calm and collected. You smiled comfortably for the camera; the kind of smile that’s more of a happy face than a forced grin.

Sitting quietly at my desk, I quickly thought back. Had you come in my classroom the afternoon of Picture Day with your shirt unbuttoned? I knew you hadn’t. You had obligingly wore the shirt to school just as I had requested and had finished the day with the buttons still in their place. Then came your admission. You had unbuttoned the shirt for picture time;

the real you emblazoned on your chest.

It was your moment.

    That mutinous moment was short-lived. Thankfully it was captured on photo paper.

    That Picture Day was one of those days your image was revealed.

            The you beneath.

Unlike the you I had groomed, your loosed self was showing.

You were charming and brilliant and winsome.

You know this story.

    You may also know I have spent countless mornings buttoning you up. And I have spent the same checking to see if you remained fastened. Do this/Be this. Think this way. Love these things…..

In many ways you have fit into the mold I created. In other ways, despite my constant grooming, I see before me this image I had little to do with creating.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

For instance, you’re so funny. It’s not a quality I would have ranked so highly had I been given a list of attributes that I could persuade or teach you to have. No, being a person who can incite laughter at both appropriate and seemingly inappropriate times would never have crossed my mind in being important. On the contrary, your laughter is one of the greatest gifts of my life.

A cheerful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22

Your love of studying history and of learning about different cultures isn’t something I instilled in you either. I taught you how important it is to do whatever it takes to make good grades. But it’s the things you’ve learned on your own time that you’ve shared with me that I find absolutely fascinating.

You are full of so many things I never saw coming.

    I hope to be given some sort of credit for having taught you to take your plate to the sink and to go out of your way to show kindness to those who appear to need it most. Guiding you, after all, is a big part of the “Mom Job”.

    But you bear an image on your own two feet underneath those broadening shoulders.

The time is drawing near for me to step back and behold God’s design in you. It’s high time I proclaim like Hannah, mother of Samuel,

“Yes! Let God complete what he has begun!” (1 Samuel 1:23 the Message).

I really don’t know the end of the story. Much of your story is just beginning. You’ve outgrown your over shirt. Your image is being better revealed. I can’t wait to see you display God’s handiwork.

Like the grand idea the first grade boy had for Picture Day, I’ll wish I had thought of it myself.

Sun's Out
Sun’s Out

You are my sunshine.

Mom


 

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Return of the Winged Beast and the Incompetent Moth Slayer

 

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me …” Psalm 138:7

Have I written about the moth invasion in our pantry?  Yes?  No matter. I’m writing about it again; if not for your pleasure or information, I’m writing for my own well-being. These words are my necessary to my therapy.

And even if I have written about it, I’m writing about a different crew of moths. I annihilated the last bunch singlehandedly, well with my hand and a poorly-placed sticky trap (that ended up with a box of Bisquick stuck to it).

After the last infestation I tirelessly worked to recompile the pantry. After disposing of every item in the pantry and thoroughly cleaning the shelves, I bought those clear plastic canisters for the new dry goods. I put everything back in all organized-like. The very strategic manner and finished product made me feel like I’d advanced three spaces in becoming more like my mother. unnamed (103) There was no sign of them for eight months or so. But this summer to my utter dismay, I opened the pantry door and upon my sighting of a single new moth quoted Poltergeist,

“They’re Baa-ack.”

I must have brought home a bag of Doguet’s rice with a stowaway (I recently noticed a flurry of them in the rice aisle in HEB). I’ve mostly ignored them since first  (re)sighting  deeming most every item in the pantry a lost cause. Anytime I’ve had to reach in the pantry to grab a moth-impenetrable can I slay a few of them with a paper towel (they’re slow little fellas).

But mostly I keep the door closed and pretend they’re not there(-Kind of like I often do with sin in my life) I have refused, on any notable level, to deal with them and then hope with a mystical kind of hope that I will one day open the pantry door and ……they.will.all.be.gone……

THAT didn’t happen.

Some battles we can’t ignore

I had to clean the pantry out again getting rid of boxed macaroni and meatloaf seasoning packets. This time I was rigidly selective about what went back into the pantry putting mostly canned and paper goods. I put new shelving in the laundry room placing on it  the flour and sugar canisters and any other grainy thing moths might find tasty. My thought is that with this shelf being out in the open, in the light, I’ll be more observant of the loathed insects. I’m less than hopeful. I smashed one lone winged-beast in the living room with my socked-foot in the midst of writing this.

This too is a rite of passage; just like slow progressing potty training and lice, I tell my friend.

We live in a perpetual kingdom (where battles are a part of life)

for now……

Some we feel like we win.  Other tiresome conflicts we face over and over  (like the battle between you and your barking Schnauzer who’s made you the most annoying house on the street or that cabinet door that bounces back open in a creaky sort of laugh every time you shut it.). Being a competent moth slayer doesn’t mean all that much. Some battles won’t matter very far down the road, much less in the end.

-their eternal significance=zero

And those things that we battle that do matter?  What about those?  We all struggle, be it presently with our own sin or for pain endured for our loved ones…..or a lot of both. These struggles leave a gaping wound at worst and a scar at best.

Incompetent moth slayers and those bloodied and bruised by battle, you’ve heard the new age battle cry?

Stay calm.

If the will of God is our will, and if He always has His way, then we always have our way also, and we reign in a perpetual kingdom. He who sides with God cannot fail to win in every encounter; and, whether the result shall be joy or sorrow, failure or success, death or life, we may, under all circumstances, join in the Apostle’s shout of victory, “Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ!”       -Hannah Whitall Smith

Because of God, we win.

 

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Dancing with the Stars (In Spirit); Team Sadie

Do not conform to the pattern of this world. , but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Photo Credit-Gospel Herald
Photo Credit-Gospel Herald


I’ve never watched a season of Dancing With The Stars before now. For one thing, we’re really too busy for TV. Even if we weren’t seriously busy, sitting for two hours is a long time when there’s no plot. I have a hard enough time with riveting two-hour films. I check Facebook.  I fall asleep. I go wipe down the kitchen cabinet….


But this season I decided to watch DWTS (Dancing with the Stars) when I found out who they’d casted for the show. I was plum giddy when I learned that Alfonso Ribiero, Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would be a contestant. Carlton (the cardigan-wearing prep)didn’t cut it on Fresh Prince as far as the cool factor, but I tell you….the man can cut a rug.  I, like the hoards, have waited for him to perform his trademark “Carlton Dance”. This past Monday night he did it, and the world cheered.

 

It might have been that I would have watched DWTS this season for Carlton alone, but then there’s Sadie Robertson.

You know Duck Dynasty’s sweetheart?

-The daughter of Duck Commander CEO.

-The seventeen year old bright-eyed, dimple-faced brunette with a million dollar smile.

You probably know those things. But did you know that she has a youtube channel called TheNewDifferent? She and a friend give pep talks referencing scripture to encourage young girls to be “in this world and not of it”. Maybe you heard that she partnered up with dress designer Sherri Hill to create a line of modest prom dresses. The line is called the Sadie Robertson Live Original.

Photo Credit-Sherri Hill
Photo Credit-Sherri Hill

She’s lit.er.ally wearing her faith. She’s the main reason I decided to be a devoted fan for this season’s DWTS.

And I’m not going to lie. I knew I was going to vote for her before I saw a single step, ball change.

……….And then I prayed she could dance.

That almost seems wrong. DWTS is a dance contest after all.

But I love what she stands for. I love what her family stands for. I love that they stand.

Period……

Because so very many of us don’t these days in the name of political correctness; in fear that voicing our convictions will prove us hypocritical or downright hateful .

The Robertsons were given a show by A&E based on their seemingly backwards way of living despite being quite wealthy (Those beards!). In a society where dinner is seldom served around a table much less prayed over, the Robertsons scooch up together and pray over Miss Kay’s “Boiled Squirrel and Dumplings”. They’re the real deal. The Robertson brothers who work together spend more time arguing and loitering than they do working. In several episodes it’s pointed out by the patriarch, Phil Robertson, that the grandkids spend too much time on their technology. They’re a family I can relate to when there are few families on television at all. They mess up and they make up. But despite, or maybe because of their fallible human nature, they always turn to prayer.

But for the grace of God, played out on my TV screen

In all honesty, I don’t watch Duck Dynasty because I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat in suspense… “Will Jase EVER get those Christmas lights up?!”. I don’t watch it because it makes me bust a gut from laughter, though I do find it funny. I watch Duck Dynasty because I find it refreshing. I watch it because my family can watch it without fear of profanity or uncomfortable sexual situations. I watch it because it’s one of the last evidences of televised faith (besides the “700 Club”). The fact that it’s entertaining is a grand bonus.

Sadie’s dance numbers on DWTS have proved to be tasteful as have her costumes. The camera captured Sadie praying with her parents before she went on to dance during the first episode. This past Monday on tribute night, she gave wonderful testimony about her family and faith. That makes me happy.

AND……THE GIRL CAN DANCE

with all of her clothes on and without being a sexual object which apparently seems to be hard to do.

I tried to make a family event out of the show. Rylie watched a few of the dances through a crack in her hands which otherwise covered her eyes. She told me after the second episode that she “needed therapy after seeing that”.

Sitting in front of our television or in traffic, we’re in the world. It’s unavoidable no doubt. And so much about that is frustrating and quite disappointing.

Thank goodness there are still Sadies who are filled with the Spirit.  That Spirit bubbles over.

Even on the dance floor.

#teamsadie

7-13 So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! For instance:

Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing;
I’ll sing to your name!

And this one:

Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together!

………..

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! Romans 15:7-13 (The Message)

Read a letter I wrote to Sadie last year HERE.

 

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Foodie Friday: A Recipe and the Cupcake Dreams are Made of

The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice and be glad. Psalm 118:24

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Bad news first. No Novice Foodie Mission this Friday. I know. I know. We didn’t have one last Friday either, but as I mentioned on Facebook, I had the misfortune of being introduced to Indian food. I’m sure the place we tried was marvelous, if you like your meat and vegetables rolled in potpourri and served with yogurt. Alas no review. We’re too nice for that.

Today, we’ve got stuff to do. Jason had to run to Beaumont to grab Hayden’s iPhone which had to be fixed. I passed my technology curse on to the kid. Phones, computers,…….those electric sliding doors in Walmart just don’t work like they’re supposed to in my presence…or in Hayden’s. Even when I DON’T drop my phone in the toilet it does weird things. For instance all of my contacts have disappeared and I have to answer my phone old-school style. I have no idea who you are which means I don’t know if you’re someone I want to talk to or not before I answer. Hayden’s phone battery is defective.

C’est la vie (If you don’t remember the 80’s song, it means “That’s just the way it goes”…. “That’s Life”).

 I stayed here this morning. I’m fixing up a double batch of “The Pioneer Woman’s” Frito Pie. I won’t critique my own food, but I will share a link to the Frito Pie we’re having.

Click HERE for the recipe.

 

To get all that we needed to get done this morning we skipped our workout at the gym so no calories were burned today. And then look what Jason found on the way home.
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This is much better than the ten pound box of bologna he brought me on our first anniversary.  The guy has learned.  I can now say he’s the complete package.

They’re Triple Chocolate Torte cupcakes.


I am so confident of this cupcake that I started writing a blog post about it at first sight…. before I tasted it. Jason had his before lunch.

Pre-Jitters
Pre-Jitters


The guy at Gigi’s told Jason that you’re supposed to heat it up in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds.  He mentioned ice cream too. How can it not be good?

Did I mention Hayden was having lunch with us today? His cupcake question was “How many calories does it have?”. Guessing it had to be about a thousand, I Googled it. This is what the Gigi’s website has to say about it.

Triple Chocolate Torte

Rich, dark chocolate cake

with a brownie texture,

baked without flour,

topped with a chocolate ganache rose

and powdered sugar.

Gluten Free Groupies (and people like me who attempt to be Gluten Reduced/Gluten Conscious) ….What, WHAT!!

I looked up a similar flourless cupcake. It had 191 calories. I can handle that. I’ll work out tomorrow.

Now. About that cupcake.

What can I say?

It’s a beautiful thing. I LOVE the Triple Chocolate Torte cupcake.

(And)….

There is no remedy for love but to love more.

-Henry David Thoreau

I’ll do my best!

 

 

 


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A letter to the girls in Africa; What You Taught Me

Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs. Isaiah 35: 6b,7a

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At the risk of sounding cliché, I tell you, I think of you all the time. But in no season do I think of you more than in Fall. For it’s this time of year, when leaves start to turn, that reminds me of your bright-eyed faces, you the ones who brought new color to my world. 

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It was five years ago that we were preparing to return to Africa. It would be my second time to visit your home at the orphanage there. I won’t go into detail about how my time(s) there were much like a dream that you don’t want to wake from. I’ll save that for another day.

Today I reminisced the time I received a large brown envelope containing letters from you. I’m so thankful for our friends who served close by, who collected those for me. It was months after that fall visit that I received them.  I remember running into Jason’s office after one particularly difficult day and seeing him smile and reach over to pick up an envelope whose contents had traveled the ocean to deliver love to me. I gave him a quick peck and dashed to the car. Amidst a torrential downpour I ran into a convenience store and grabbed treats for the kids to keep them occupied while I pulled out letter after letter from you. The edges of each hand-written note were decorated with flowers and scrolling, carefully penciled with map colors. Within reading the first two sentences my eyes poured somewhat like the rain that fell outside my window. So now, though you may not receive this, I am writing once again to you.

You left an indelible mark on my heart, which is ironic.  Like so many others who’ve had the privilege to serve in a similar capacity, I wanted to meet you to change you. I wanted to brighten your world with stickers and treats.  I wanted to cure your loneliness with mama-like hugs. I let you wear my sunglasses and made bracelets with you. I played with you with small stones and a tin cup in the sand. We jumped rope with a broken water hose. I played much more intently than I’d played with my own children.

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Remember this clapping/hand-slapping game:

My mother and your mother were washing some clothes.

My mother gave your mother a piece of clothes?

Which color was it?

Red. R-e-d.

Besides having an unforgettable time, I determined that I would carry in my Spirit the grace of God and I decided that I would give it to you. Little did I know, the grace of God was surely already there.

It’s in moments of humbling clarity I realize that I was one of a handful of Americans that visited you through the years. Sometimes I wonder if we dazzling people were like sparkly shirts that fade after the wash.

You called me Kristin. You told me I looked like one of your favorite characters on the Spanish soap opera you were fortunate to be able to watch on your three-station television. You asked me if I knew Oprah and Obama. And looking back at what you wrote in your letters and from our conversations, you thought me as one who lives in the place where the God of prosperity resides.


Initially, I saw you as impoverished being that you were nourished with only beans and tea and the fact that you only had one pair of clothes not counting your school uniform. Most of you were motherless and fatherless and for the most part unsupervised except for the one fourteen year old who was in charge of you (at non-school times) and didn’t hesitate to climb the tree to find a switch to use on you. You were without possessions not counting the small trunk which held maybe a small stuffed animal, some Obama bubble gum and a letter or two. The red dirt upon which your tired feet tread seemed thirsty.

That description of you sounds so desolate.

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I brought books for you to read and lima beans that I’d hand-lettered so that we could play educational games. A special memory I have is from some of the beans being left out from the plastic game container I’d made for you. I remember coming back the next day, seeing that some of those beans, though unplanted and not watered had sprouted. I don’t know how anything grew layed out on that hard, dry ground but those beans did. I remember knowing then that God was at work.  I felt his protection over you. I sensed His love for you. That’s something I will never forget. It wasn’t evident in material prosperity, but the air was thick with his presence.

I think often how I gave you an incomplete picture of who God is, me and my material wealth- flat character that I was. I think of how my own view of God has been so very short of who He is. Since visiting with you, I have spent time of my own, now and then, in the desert; not like the one in Africa. At times I have a desert soul within me. I have found myself feeling insecure. My soul sometimes feels desolate and wanting. I think all people spend time there.

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In those times I would be remiss not to think back. You helped me have a clearer picture of God.  He is on the mountain, in the valley and He is in the desert too. You’ve taught me that He’s not always seen, but sometimes felt in the depths of seemingly bare places.

unnamed (98) It was through you I realized there will be times He is heard in beautiful melodies with words that aren’t understood. 

You taught me that empty hands and full hearts can coincide.  My life is more prosperous for having known you.

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God. Isaiah 35:1-2

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With much love,

Kristin

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