Tag Archive | blessings

Mama’s Reinforcer

My 3 brothers and I were rambunctious, curious, headstrong kids who were constantly experimenting, trying out new things, building contraptions, getting into scrapes.  Especially when we concocted pretend battles that earned us scrapes and more than one hilarious–if unexpected–outcome. (Tale for another time)

Yet when Mama said jump, we did.  Didn’t ask why.  Or argue.   We just understood that she was Mama, she was in charge, she knew best, and she had a little maple switch to back up her words if we disagreed.

She didn’t use it much.  She didn’t have to.  She knew that our history with her and our aversion to pain had taught us to trust her at her word.  The few times our egos got in the way and that little guy with the horns on my left shoulder prompted me to flip that big toe over the line a bit too far…I had the Truth of what I already knew reinforced.

Don’t get me wrong, I would never dare to complain about this.  It wasn’t excessive; it wasn’t cruel or meant to harm.  It was love in action; love showing us that we had firm boundaries in place for our safety and protection.  We knew that from her perspective, in her many years of wisdom earned the hard way, that she absolutely knew what was the right thing for us to do.  Our doubts were set to rest with a bit of stinging on the legs, a few tender tears, and a much chastened ego.

When I read again John 2: 4 today, (about the wedding in Cana) I had to think about mothers and their children.  As a mother of grown sons today, When I see a need to be filled, I quietly direct my sons in the same way that Mary did.  “Jack, we need more tea,” or “Seth, that box is too heavy for her.”  I know without hesitation that they will acquiesce, and help in whatever way my statement implied.  I know that’s taking huge license with the Saviour and His relationship to his mother, but that’s my personal frame of reference here.

Yet Jesus’ statement in verse 4 was, (as stated in the Hebrew Names Version),

4 Yeshua said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.”

Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful or refusing to obey; He was simply asking her to consider His own perspective of His mission of salvation versus her more immediate temporal concern.

That is a huge lesson for me right now.  Recovering from an unexpected divorce, I have my own laundry list of immediate wants and needs that I’ve taken to Him, confident that He cares.  But He’s reminding me that His perspective is different from mine.  His purposes in the trials I face today are eternal, not temporal.

That’s quite a lesson for me.  I wanted to pass it along, for what it’s worth.  And to share with you one more bit of serendipity…the verse to encourage me that came to mind from this study was from I Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV).

Now, I have a children’s memory verse pad—it’s a post-it note pad with a different verse printed on every page in large print—I guess it’s used in VBS or children’s classes.  The top one was about children obeying their parents.  I used to stick them on the mirror and around the house, as reminders.

Haven’t used it in a while.  In a pinch, I turned it over and scribbled I Peter 5:7 down on the back of the last well-worn sheet that still had a bit of sticky on it. I folded the sticky edge down and stuck it with the verse I wrote showing on my bookshelf beside my desk.  It was a few moments later when I stood up to leave the desk, that I glanced at the notepad to see what the new memory verse would be.  Here it is: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

 

Memory verse pad

“Nothing Can Stop Us Now”

[Once again, this draft was penned in June a year and a half ago.  It’s ancient history now :0), but I’m pleased in a shy way to see how upbeat I was able to be.]

 

The last time I wrote (January 1) I exclaimed, “What’s Next, Father?”  and basically stood amazed, waiting for whatever He brought my way.

I wanted to let the few of you who still read this little chat know what has transpired since then.

Times grew worse; desperate, in fact.  I wish I could list for you all the particulars, but for now let’s just say that I can’t imagine anything worse happening to us.  (What a frightful thing to say, now I see this and wonder if I “jinxed” our journey).

Then on one of the earliest sunny days in 2014 to date, someone that neither my husband nor I had ever contacted called him and asked him to come to work for them.  Right here in Oklahoma.  No 12 hours of travel; no outlay of expense for hotel, or anything.  Just wanted him to come to work immediately.

And a couple of days following that–ending 3 years of unemployment–I was called for an interview that I had joked about a few days earlier.  I’d grown so used to pouring my all into an interview to no avail, that I just relaxed and enjoyed this one. No pressure–if I wasn’t going to get the job, there was no reason to fret and be nervous. So I relaxed, and laughed a lot, and had a great time in this interview. In fact, when I left the boss’s office, I was so pleased just to have a warm and confident interview that I was encouraged just to have accomplished that simple act.

You can’t imagine the awe and delight in my heart when I was asked to accept the position a couple of days later.  It was more than I could fathom that all of this would transpire at the same time.  BOTH of us hired within a few days’ time.

To shorten a long and rather boring tale, we’re now in a new home; smaller, but beautiful.  We have a new beginning; new jobs, new dreams, and thankfully, a new purpose.

Last time it was “What’s Next, Father?” And this time I can truly say it’s all about Him.  To quote my husband’s wedding vows to me, “Nothing Can Stop Us Now.”

 

Turning Pages

Last time I was here, it was New Years’.  Life has been moving fast.

Now it happens that I’m ready to turn another page this week, and begin a brand new career.  I’m excited, and anxious to begin.  I won’t belabor the “God thing” (as people describe it) that brought me and this opportunity together.  I’ll just say that each time I bowed to what I believed God wanted for me in spite of what I wanted, another ‘miraculous’ happening occurred.  And now I find myself bent for the world of medical billing again, with the freedom to research and dig and pursue every facet of the work that I love–and that I’ve proven to be pretty adept at.

I was blessed beyond measure back in January to be selected to work for the local bank.  I learned a few of the multiple steps involved in clearing deposits, validating checks, and verifying and identifying documents related to new accounts, forged checks, wire transfers. etc..  While the work was originally totally foreign to me, I learned quickly and enjoyed the process.  I found the rest of the team I came to know were kind, and most of them helpful and welcoming.  As the process became routine, our personalities were revealed, the typical insecurities and posturing rising to the surface, but all in all it was an experience that I enjoyed and will carry its finer points with me into my new endeavors.

One memory that I will treasure in a special way:  the laugh of Joy, my supervisor.  She mentors, encourages and teaches.  She measures and delegates, carefully shaping and pointing her employees to a higher goal, excellence in action.  But her laugh.  She laughs at the slightest provocation, an unfettered, bubbling laughter that ripples over onto her staff.  I remember working like a fury during daily closing, trying to hustle and endure to the end when I would hear the pure peals of her joy-filled laughter lifting my spirits and making the work–sorry to repeat myself–a pure joy.

I remember that back on January 1 I asked, “What’s Next, Father?”  I still ask that question every day, and wait patiently now for His answers.  They’re sure to come.  Not early but certainly not late.  He has always been and will continue to answer me  “just in the nick of time.”

You Make My Heart Smile

Brittanys-Eyes_edited-1I’m learning things from an intelligent and candid young woman.  She is amazingly beautiful to look at, untarnished, unconscious of how truly stunning she is.  Yet what I continue to observe is how radiant she is—how exquisite she is on the inside.  And she’s so young!!  Not yet battered by what the world will send her way, she is already so wise and so caring.

What I have learned from her most recently is the vision she has.  The discernment.  She looks at a large, lumbering, sometimes silly young man and sees so much promise, so much capability—and truly her knight in shining armor.  He is a brilliantly independent thinker, ready with his opinions, outspoken, yet wise beyond his years—so she’s not mistaken.  Just very young to have spotted this ambitious young soul and know without a shadow of a doubt that he’s the man for her.   I’ve loved seeing how her growing love for him has completely grounded him.  What an impact—and I don’t believe she knows that her love for him is the catalyst.

Let me share with you a few comments she has made about him:

They met a couple of years ago, during high school.  And only a few months into their relationship, she listed this poem beside his photo:  “Say farewell to the dark night, I see the coming of the sun. I feel like a little child whose life has just begun, you came and breathed new life into this lonely heart of mine” (Back at One, by Brian McKnight)

Then a few months later: “When a girl is in love you can see it in her smile.  When a guy is in love you can see it in his eyes.”  If you could see the photo she posted with this comment, you would totally understand.

She has been through all sorts of escapades with him, some adventurous, some calamitous and yet she comes up with this statement that’s way beyond her years:  “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

Her continual gratitude for him and what he means to her is a gift in itself:  “You make my heart smile.”

What a sweet, sweet spirit to see him as a gift for her:  “I must have done something right, to have you in my life.”

Beside a photo of the two of them relaxed, laid back and laughing themselves silly is the wise-beyond-her-years admission:  “Thank God I’ve finally found someone I can be my completely stupid self with and we still enjoy every second of it.”

And when he was trying to help her in an awkward private moment:  “Every girl deserves a guy who looks at her everyday like it’s the first time he saw her.”

This young woman will never have to fear her man being miles away and tempted by anyone:  “It’s not every day that you find someone who can put up with your bullshit. Hold on to them with all you have.”

And ultimately a worldly wise woman who knows how to tempt, how to entice, how to endear and “keep” (for lack of a better word) a man’s interest:  “A legal kiss is never as good as a stolen one.”

I wanted to share this portrait of a shrewd and truly perceptive woman’s approach to her relationship and her future in hopes that it will inspire you to do the same.  This world has sometimes fostered a lack of integrity; it encourages lassitude and an almost anarchist attitude toward life.  Yet I’ve learned that she is living proof that somewhere out there is another person who is meant to complete you; who will improve you just by being aware that you exist.

Say It Out Loud

Hands lifted highTalk about convicted.  I was driving home from a worship service this morning and was just thunderstruck by this thought.  Think of the words to this song. They just…convicted is not exactly the right term, but He just opened my eyes in a way that I haven’t seen before.

There’s not many things you can tell me that the Lord says or does that I’m going to go, “I know, I know, I know.”

Every time He tells me something–helps me realize something new, it’s always astounding. Earth-shattering, light bulb-blinking, whatever you want to call it. It’s always exciting.  Then I’m dumb-founded that I was so dense that I didn’t get it before now.

Today it was the words to this simple little song:

“I Love You, Lord and I lift my voice, To worship You, O my soul rejoice,

Take joy my King, in what you hear, May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.”

Now what was that? May it be a SOUND.  Loud.  Out loud. Verbal.  Not a silent thought in your own head.  Take joy my King, in what you hear; may it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.  He wants to hear it OUT LOUD.

I don’t know if you ever had a husband like some people have, (giggling here) I ain’t pointing fingers at anybody,…a husband to whom you’ve had to say, “you never tell me you love me.”  You know what I’m talking about?   And he’ll say, “yeah, well, I was thinking it”… Right!!

If it isn’t verbalized where you can hear the thoughts and intents of that person’s heart, the inflections in their voice, their very tone that speaks their intent–if you don’t hear it, for all intents and purposes, for all the effect it has on you, it just wasn’t said.  If my husband loves me but he doesn’t actually tell me, then how am I supposed to know?

So.  This is not about the husband at all.  This is about the Lord.  And how much he values hearing your praise, hearing your joy.  Hearing your love for him.  Hearing your broken heart; hearing your willingness to be forgiven.  Any, ANY emotions, thoughts, decisions that you are imparting to Father God…yes, He hears you in your head, yes, He hears you in your heart. Yet that’s one of the ways that we are created in His likeness.  He longs to hear that you care. How you feel.  What you care about.  He longs to hear you tell Him that you love Him.  Say it.

Say it. Out Loud.

(Maranatha sings “I Love You, Lord” on YouTube if you’d like to hear it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5DnUvrxpeM)

We’ve Got Drought…or Black Thumbs are Inheritable

Northeastern Oklahoma in all its beauty is becoming a dry and barren wasteland.  Claremore has water rationing in effect–voluntarily at this point, they say, but the end of all living things is in sight–and so my beautiful hydrangeas, hosta’s, and my prize possession and a special blessing–my brand new butterfly bush, is dwindling down to die.

We used to sneak out and offer a little comfort, we’d water in the dark late at night, hiding from the water police…but the situation seems so dire, we gave up and quit watering.

So I’ve watched the struggling, spindly plant shrivel up, turn brown and brittle, and basically die.  Besides, it’s only survived until now based on the fact that Vernon, my husband, has faith and has handled the watering.  You see, I have a huge black thumb.  I kill every living plant I come into contact with.  I don’t think it runs in my family, because my Mom on the other hand, could jab a yardstick in the ground and make it grow and bloom.  I’ve watched her!!  The great Atlanta Plant Whisperer of 1983!

My daughter Shannon phoned from Houston, Texas late this afternoon to share news of her promotion at work.  It was a real accomplishment for her, a career ‘star in her crown’.  I told her I’d love to send her a plant, but until we discover if we’re solvent or not (has to do with short-term disability payments), I said I’d just send her photo’s of the  beautiful peace lily we just received from our church following my husband’s shoulder surgery.  It would be a sort of “congratulations/plant IOU”.

We talked back and forth, touching on 43 topics in the space of 10 minutes or so–we had to be quick ’cause she was at work.  She started trying in her compassionate way to make me feel better about losing my butterfly bush, and shared a story.

“It can happen to anyone, Mom, it’s just the odds.  We planted three white oak trees that were a gift from a friend.  Two were placed in the back yard, and the third tiny one in the front yard.  We did everything exactly the same for them, yet no matter what we did, the one sad little guy didn’t make it.  So we pulled it up and threw it away.  It’s a loss, but it can happen to anyone, trust me,” she went on.

In our mother/daughter fashion, I started listing things she could have tried–‘did you water them well? Did you feed them like the directions say? Did you…’  I went on in my helpful, searching voice.  Then she began to giggle.

“Wait, Mom.  I figured it out.”

“What?  What’s different about your three trees?”

“Robert (her husband) planted the two big flourishing trees in the back yard.  It was ME that planted the one that died in the front.”

“Well, welcome to The Curse of the Black Thumb!” I cried.  Now you know why I don’t water the butterfly bush myself.The flowers of a peace lily plant.

We finished our conversation and I let her get back to work.

My next move was to take a few interesting pictures of the church family’s peace lily to send to Shan as her “IOU plant”.  I placed the HUGE peace lily with its satiny red ribbon, nestled in a woven basket on a table by itself.  It’s just spilling over with dozens of white blooms shaped like a shell, sort of a ‘jack-in-the-pulpit’ shape with the bumpy pistils each standing up in the shade of its own white shell.

I took a couple of shots of the entire plant, and then thought we needed a closeup or two of the blossoms.  As I pointed my viewfinder at first one cobra-hood shape and then another, the old brain decided to take a left turn…the plant began to come alive!  And I texted Shannon the following:  “This is a big green jungle of leaves, hard to get it all in the frame.”   “These white blooms are nodding at me.   There’s so many they’re starting to bob and weave.”    “Sheesh, Shan, I thought I heard them whispering…I think I’m going to give them names.  One just said something about ‘the neighborhood…'”  Realizing I sounded as nutty as I felt, I stopped all that and sent her the pictures…When it comes to plants, if ya can’t keep ’em, just fake it!A picture of Peace Lily along with its leaf. C...

Technology at Our House

My Toy Maltese, Miss Chantilly Lace—“Tillie” to a few of her closest friends—is a devoted old soul.  Next month she will turn 70 in dog years.  By the hesitancy in her eyes when I call her to jump onto my bed, or to dance a whirling jig on her hind legs for a chewy bacon treat like she used to, it’s evident that Father Time and aging are not being kind to her.  Her little knees ache at times, making her an excellent weather forecaster for those rainy days.  While she’s a bit slower to get going in the mornings, she still has spunk, making the rounds of her vast kingdom—my back yard—lecturing the squirrels, chasing any unidentified birds out of her territory and keeping it safe for her family.  Knowing Tillie is on the alert is a comfort and a blessing.

She loves me, has been deeply devoted to me since I purchased her as a puppy from a kindly retired veterinarian in Ardmore back in 2002.  Yet there’s a definite fickle streak in that tiny six pound body.  She will attach herself with wildly enthusiastic abandon to any visitor who comes through our front door.  Her captivating black marble eyes instantly charm, yet when sensing a new situation and not completely sure of her reception, she escalates her nervous habit  (we all have them, don’t we?).  In fact, the welcome mat at the entrance to my home says, “Beware: Dog cannot hold its Licker!”

There are those times when her lack of licker control can be a nuisance.  Yet she will always calm down, especially if you’re willing to perform an undercover operation.  Just cover your lap with one of our small fleece throws; then she immediately scoots under, settles in beside you, goes completely silent—and off to sleep.  Licker silenced.

But if you want to really see the blazing fast communications technology at our house, come around to the side gate.  Thomas Edison invented the telephone and the telegraph.  My Maltese created Tilliepathy.

Waiting for Daddy’s truck – in Colorado, 2005

I mean, just look!  The grass-worn path from our gate to the back door is getting deeper and deeper with use.  The instant Tillie sees her Daddy step out of his diesel F-250, she abandons her lookout post at the gate, makes a beeline for her doggy door, and meets him as his key turns in the lock.  Our Tilliepathy is pretty dependable; very appreciated; and a memory that I cherish, whether it kills the grass, tunnels through snow, or fills with seasonal rains…that’s love in action!