Tag Archive | faith

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

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)

Focus, Grasshopper!

Let me know if you recognize this gadget!!

Let me know if you recognize this gadget!!

I  love gadgets. Tools with interesting settings; clamps used in gluing boards together; I loved crushing small things with my Dad’s vise.  More technical tools like his old Brownie camera—I kept messing with the open-close things on the front.  And the tension on my Mom’s sewing machine.  She just couldn’t keep it adjusted right (who, me?)  And her music box just seemed to be overwound all the time, hmmm. Don’t know how the ballerina’s tutu got peanut butter on it…

I used to snitch my Dad’s mechanical drafting set in its black velvet case and readjust all the screws, try to write with the pencil leads in their little case…yes, I’m the cause of the second generation of gray hairs on his head.  I enjoyed the way the lock opened and closed, like a mysterious secret.  Not that I knew how to USE any of these tools.  They were just fun to play with.

Just like his binoculars.  A very finely tuned instrument—at least until I got hold of it.  I would try walking around while looking through them, putting my hand out to touch things as they drew near. How many doorways have you encountered in this fashion?  After a few upsets, I tried turning them around and looking through the other end.  That was frightening.  Do NOT try this at home, you’ll walk out in front of traffic, fall off a ledge…and step in doggy doo, so say the very least.

Sometimes that’s the feeling I get when I’m trying to follow God’s leading.  I want to see things that are meant to come to me in their own time (in HIS time)—yet I want to see them right now.  And when I keep trying to put my hand out and reach them to bring them closer, I only end up running into things that were right there all along; in fact, I should be  taking care of them right now in the present. Yet other times my lack of focus (or actually, my “far-off” focus) has me walking faster to get closer–to something that’s never going to get closer as long as my focus is out of whack.

That’s the cool thing about God that I forget.  Why can’t we learn things ONCE with Him? You see, I do  know that

“ they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  —-from Isaiah 40:31

Nor shall they run into door jambs.

A Blossom on the Vine

How can I even give a tiny hint of a complaint about my weight, my job (or lack of) my mate, my children, my sleep (or lack of) when I stop for even a moment’s reflection, TRUE reflection of what my Creator is, who He is, what He’s done. And how sad His picture of me as a loving child must be.

He’s created me, filled me with distinctive tastes, talents, longings, purpose; guided each step of my life, many steps more than He planned, probably, because of my many wayward and wilfull steps in the opposite direction.

He listens to my confessions, my deeply felt apologies and concrete determination to step forward only to watch me slip away within minutes of my decision. How low. How despicable. I can no more vow to do right than I can hold my breath for an hour. Times like these serve to reinforce my total understanding that I don’t live and breathe each day; His Grace, His Totally Beautiful and Unending Grace lives and breathes each day. I am just the blossom that flourishes on the vine of His Glorious Love and Grace.

Countdown to a Brand New Day

     Today is July 4th, 2012, a bit after midnight.  Vernon’s asleep and the dogs are snoring down under the covers.  But I’m parked in my laughin’ place, too excited to sleep.  Cuddled in my green wicker rocker, laptop on knees—no room for the laptop on the lap, folks.

      And I’m counting down 15 days until I begin a journey that’s a bit different from any I ever embarked on before. In some small ways, it’s a journey back in time. (See the photo of me taken in Nassau that’s just before this post—I don’t know how to move it to this one).  It’s the ‘before before’ picture of me BEFORE I swelled up and swallowed that skinny person.  But I’m going to find her.  Even if I have to go back in time.

       Back to when I weighed about 125. And that my friends, is about 120 pounds ago.  Nowadays I waddle around at close to 253 lbs, do you realize that’s as much as 2 of my friends?  Four or even five small children?  63 bags of sugar?  12 small dogs?  Good grief, guys, I’m a whole NEIGHBORHOOD!!

        But in more ways than one, it’s a journey of a different kind. A journey that will be difficult, and new, and challenging, and more fun than I can imagine right now. Uphill much of the way, wanting to quit at times—I was once told I tend to give up too easily on things. But not this time.  I’ve discussed this with the Lord and we both agree that it’s time.  Time for me to put the Spirit where my mouth is.  To “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:7).

         On July 19th I’ll be having a procedure that will enable me to lose about 100 lbs over the next 6-9 months. Does that frighten me? Not at all. Not the food part. I’ll feel awkward for my friends who won’t know how to act when I’m eating tiny amounts, and feeling sorry for me if I miss a cookie, or a special treat of some kind.  I don’t want that to happen, but it will.  I’ve come to realize that my real food is the smiles of those I love; the laughter around me, the tears of compassion, the struggles and encouragement that we share with each other.

         But (this is for all you pals who care so much, just so you know in advance…) I’ve thought long and hard about this.  About all the church suppers, the cake and coffee, the pizzas at midnight, Braum’s after church, the popcorn, oh, man, the ENDLESS popcorn that I’ve consumed and could enjoy consuming in the future.   Well, just listen to this, I mean REALLY listen:  if you had to walk around trapped inside this fat suit that I’ve been wearing for years, and realize that your whole life you’ll be remembered as that sweet fat gal (“she has such a pretty face” is the way we always described the fat gals at my parents’ house growing up)…if you had to endure that, to know that your legacy for 12 grandchildren is eating more than your legs could carry, and more than your body could process—that a continuous medicating of high calorie, low-satisfaction foods is the way you’ve learned to cope with trials and that this is the life lesson you’re writing on their hearts—you would feel the same.

         When I think of what I want to teach those kids, I realize that food is just not that important.  The message I want to give my family, my friends, and anyone else who cares to hear me is that the impact of my life after I am gone (and the focus while I am still here) will be the love for Jesus Christ and the ability to impact others for Him; the honest relationships that I established; the memories of times spent together—those are the stuff, the richness, the desserts of life.

         And when it’s all been said and it’s all been done, I really don’t believe that any flavor of ice cream or pop will enter into the situation at all.  So will I miss eating all that I want?  I’ll miss the ‘easy comfort’—the false comfort–of reaching for a bag of chips.  But now that I’m changing what I actually want and how I go about getting it, it just doesn’t matter anymore.  It’s a brand new day.

          And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new”. Revelation 21:5

Ready for a Brand New Day July 4, 2012

Comfort in Unusual Places

I want to share a little creature  comfort that found me about 10 years ago when I lived in Kansas City.  Bear with me; it can seem silly or superstitious, unless you just “go with it”.

 It was late spring when we moved into a brand new house, where I settled into a comfortable routine of planting and tending flower beds, new shrubs, all the plantings that help to make a house homey and inviting.  Just before dusk the grass was already dew-laden and shadows were lengthening.   I finished planting some lilies between the azaleas and straightened up, when a little brown bundle moved near my foot.  I sat perfectly still, and a tiny brown baby bunny slowly hopped by me, totally absorbed in his snacking.

 When he hopped away, I went inside and  told Michael, my husband, about the little guy when he just nodded, “Yeah, he’s been popping in and out around the shrubs for a week or so”.  We grew to expect our busy little visitor, and missed him whenever he didn’t appear for a few days.

 Turn the page in this story book to a sunny spring morning a little more than six years later.  Our house was sold and we were moving into a small apartment across the street from the local hospital to be near Michael’s chemo appointments.    The smile on his emaciated, lined face  when he noticed the furry little guy scooting across the sidewalk in front of his wheelchair is one I still remember.  No one could convince him that this wasn’t the same little rabbit.  And no one tried.

 Time wasn’t kind to us. Fall found me lugging boxes by myself into a tiny studio apartment down in Fort Worth, Texas, FMLA over and ready to return to work at American Airlines, a widow at 49 years old.  The complex of Spanish-style pink buildings was shade-covered with mature trees and in place of grass was a wandering carpet of English ivy.  Somehow when I saw little cotton-tail scamper across the sidewalk about 10 feet in front of me I wasn’t surprised.  It was as if Michael was still there, telling me he was watching over me.  I found comfort in the nearness of that little rabbit.

 It was almost six months afterward that I found a duplex to buy in Arlington and moved once again.  This time I expected that I’d find a furry brown presence somewhere around my door.  He was there, sure enough.  I didn’t see him as often then, but just enough to know he was still around.

 Turn another page to find me sometime later, reminiscing old times with my youngest daughter by telephone.  I had just laughed as I recounted the story of my little buddy, and she gasped.  She said, “Mom, listen.”

 She harkened back to when her stepfather was still alive.  She was plowing in the fields on her farm in North Dakota, frustrated that she couldn’t travel just then to be with us–we both knew his time was growing short.  She turned at the end of a furrow when something told her she needed to call me to check on him.  She noticed movement off to her right and turned to see a small brown rabbit just sitting in the middle of the road, watching her.  Not hopping.  Not running away.  Just watching.  He stayed there with her until she finished plowing, and then slowly hopped away.

 She drove on to the farmhouse and called me, only to discover that her Stepdad had just passed away.

 Now, all this is true; it actually happened.  Coincidence? Vivid, overactive imaginations?  Well, I know one thing:  it was a little comfort here and there, just when we needed it.