Saturday, June 16, 2018

Wishing for Rules

Monopoly.

Buy more property and houses than the other players and you win.

Baseball.

Hold your opponent's team to a score lower than your team's score and, you win.

Cookies.

Bake in a 375 oven for ten minutes and you'll have the perfect bite of soft-cookie-goodness.

Driving.

Maintain the speed limit on your next trip, and you won't get a speeding ticket.

I've stumbled into something that has no rules. And, while everyone will experience this sooner or later, there is no one to tell me to "place tab A into slot B" and everything will fall into place.

Wading through grief that changed the world is like walking in familiar surroundings while covered in a dense fog.

Anger. Despair. Joy. Peace. Hope. They all live in the fog.

I keep looking for some sort of timepiece, something that will announce a date and time the fog will lift.

While searching for a way out, I've stumbled over something amazing.

Truth.

Truth in the form of kept promises. Promises such as:

"I will be with you wherever you go."

"The Lord is my rock and my shelter."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart … "

"He is faithful to complete that which he started."

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

I'm not alone in the fog. Whether an emotion catches me off guard or I feel it coming, I am not alone. God has kept His promise to be near and to provide. All I have to do is trust Him on purpose.

I trust Him. On purpose.




Saturday, June 9, 2018

If I Could Speak Freely ...

There's a shift in ministry at the local church.

Not just my church.

Churches across the country.

People, especially young Dad's and Mom's, are very interested in reaching out to our communities.

This is a wonderful thing. Impacting people where they are. Reaching them with the Gospel of Christ.

If I could speak freely.

I'd say …

Please don't forget us.

As you build ramps, distribute food, mow lawns, and offer a cool drink of water … please don't forget us.

Us.

The people who faithfully teach the children and students every time people gather in the building.

We are a band of volunteers who give of our time and our hearts to reach the children and youth.

And as the church is going out into the communities--which is a very good and biblical thing--we are in a sort of crises inside the walls.

Those of us who have the calling of equipping, mentoring, and praying for the volunteers who teach, are struggling.

We are longing and praying for God to place a burning deep in the hearts of His people. A burning to make a difference. We ask God to send us people who love kids and students. We, at times, beg God for leadership that is sold out. No drop in, drop out.

We recognize the power of God through relationships built between leaders and learners.

If you attend my church, know that I am praying for YOU. I am praying you will set fear aside and trust God to do what only God can do.

If you attend another church, know that I am praying for YOU. I am praying you will set fear aside and trust God to do what only God can do.

Your children's pastors (ministry directors) and student ministers need you. We need a team of people who recognize the value of reaching and teaching within the church walls.

The children and students need you.

Yes, go out into the communities and show them Jesus. And when you come to worship or your small group study … you can know … there are young people in the building who need to see Jesus too.

We have a lot of kingdom work to do. Let's do this together, for the glory of God and the good of the people.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dear God

Dear God,

Rain hangs in the air. It isn't here yet, but it is so close I can smell it.

Rain.

Rain reminds me of being a child. Playing outside, feeling the breeze become wind, watching the gray clouds approaching.

Rain.

Even before I knew You, I knew You were there. The rain. It announced Your existence.  It still shouts Your name.

Momma would let us play in the rain if it wasn't storming. When lightening warned and thunder rolled, she called us in. We could play near the screen door. The brisk wind drove tiny droplets of water in and misted us.

Just as I listened to my momma's warning about the coming storm, I want to listen to You. I'm so sorry--I often run ahead of You. Sometimes I lag behind. When I don't like what's going on in life, I stand still.

God? These past few weeks … I know I've been standing still. Even as You bless me more than I could ever deserve. I have stood still.

My desire is to be in step with You. Every step of every day.

Wrap me in Your love. Take my heart and fill it up with You. Fill me up with so much You there is no room for self.

Rain.

It's nature's comfort food. And I love it. I enjoy the childlike wonder it brings.

I love that is reminds me of my momma.

I love that it shouts Your name.





Saturday, May 19, 2018

Blessings and More Blessings

The assaulting sound of a blaring alarm broke through the quiet. She awoke with a jerk but remained still. She looked around at the comforts surrounding her. Ruffled curtains that matched the bedspread, a warm robe to softly wrap herself up in, and the perfume in the air of fresh coffee as her automatic maker was set to begin brewing just minutes before the alarm sounded. 

   The kids were already awake, settled in front of the television. "Turn it down! And move back, you're way too close to the TV. You're going to ruin your eyes, ya know!"

   She stopped at the large window at the breakfast nook and gazed out at the artistry of spring. Bright yellow daffodils lined the drive, the grass was a brilliant green, and the sound of birds announcing God's glory seemed to take up every inch of sunshine.

   Gazing at her home -- her perfect, southern-living home-- filled her mind with countless reasons to say thank you. God had been so good. Having been loved as a little girl should be loved carved a trail in her heart. She knew how to love. Looking over her shoulder at the kids intently watching cartoons, she felt rich, so very rich.

    Today would be filled with video games and hair bows, dandelion chains and driveway basketball. The sound of little hands touching black and white keys will fill the house with the elementary sounds of workbook three.

   She reached for her favorite coffee cup, delicately adorned by pansies and miniature roses. The sight of her hand startled her. She placed the cup near the coffee pot and touched her wedding band. She closed her eyes and turned the band around and around.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Hands of Home

          The wind was brisk as she hurried to the shed. Her boots crunched in the snow and her toes screamed in protest to the missing lining. She wrapped her thin scarf around her face, covering her nose. Maybe this would keep the sub-zero temperature from burning in her throat and nostrils. 
          
          Rushing around the corner, the shed shielded her from the angry gust that seemed to utter "not to worry, I will be here when you return!"
       
          She grasped the handle and pulled as if her life depended on getting that old door to relent. Perhaps her life did depend on it. Hers and her sweet, young children waiting in the rented house a few yards away. They would wake soon.
          
          She stood still for a moment, allowing her eyes to adjust to the darkness. The shed smelled of old grass and gasoline. It smelled like love to her. She inhaled and sensed the arms of her daddy holding her close.
         
          The wind whistled her back to reality. She reached down and began piling wood in her outstretched arm. Soon she would have a happy, cozy fire singing as it snapped and danced a show of white, yellow, and orange flames. Just the thought warmed her soul.
       
          She took one more deep breath of comfort before heading toward the house. Glancing east she was overwhelmed by the wonder of the sun, peaking up over the horizon like a gigantic, beautifully shy flower. Only God could create such splendor in the dead of winter.
       
          The light above the door beckoned her to hurry, promising the refuge of home. She knew it was borrowed along with almost everything inside. Yet it was truly home. The screen door softly whispered the message of spring, assuring one day fragrant breezes would blow through its tiny, square windows.
   
            Moments later a fire sent its invisible arms rolling outward like an octopus reaching for company. She poured oatmeal into boiling water. Soon her children would be warmed inside and out.
   
           She heard the shuffling of little slippered feet moving down the hall. She turned to see sweet faces wrapped in hair askew, little pink cheeks wearing good morning smiles  and eyes that sparkled with the happiness of a new day. 
            
          "Good morning, Sunshine!" Momma smiled.
         
           This is home. Little ones gathered, snuggled up to the fire and bathed in its warmth while the aroma of oatmeal, cinnamon, and coffee filled the air. Home is right here, wrapped in a blanket framed in tattered satin trim.
       
           "It's shivery," squeaked the younger.
     
           "Is shivery a word?" asked the older as she held mommas hand and played with her ring, turning it around and around.
   
            Momma's voice laughed, "Yes, shivery is a word."
 
            "Well, your hands are warmery!" giggled the older, "and they are the prettiest hands ever in the whole wide world!" Using her own chubby little hand, she traced mommas fingers, "Someday, I hope my hands look just like yours!"
   
             With growling tummies the girls reached for their bowls, now full of steaming hot home. 


    
             Today will be filled with Golden books, homemade paste, a shared pair of scissors and catalogues that have arrived in the mail. There will be songs of the Muffin Man and tea pots followed by games of pat-a- cake and eye spy.
     
         This is the beginning of a story of fiction, sprinkled with truth from my childhood. And I am happy to say, there are many days my hands look just like hers.
Above all, put on love--the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:14

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

America

I voted yesterday.

And as I found my parking spot, I drove past lots and lots of people holding signs and waving.

America.

I walked right in. Showed my ID and signed my name.

America.

I voted.

America.

No one tried to stop me.

America.

No one threatened me.

America.

I drove away and gave thumbs up to 2 young people. They held signs and waved.

America.

Some I voted for won, some did not.

But I voted and I'm glad.

I live in a free country. Lives were lost and lives changed forever to give me the right to cast my vote.

America.

Will the people who won keep their promises? I don't know.

Will anything change because I voted? I don't know.

But I voted.

And I will again.

And I will praise God for America.

America.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Coffee Break (Simply for your entertainment)




“ … and there I was, listening to his advice. Advice I never asked to hear. I haven’t appreciated Stuart’s opinion since I was four years old. In fact, he gets on my last nerve. I mean, seriously? He’s going to tell me how to repair the barn door? Why, he sits all day at a computer. And it’s a good thing, too. He’s just not too bright.”

She blinked her eyes and forced them to focus. How many conversations begin this way? Uh, yeah. Every. Single. One.

“I don’t know, Paul,” Sarah’s voice was warm and sweet. “Maybe he googles all day or watches YouTube tutorials.”

“Then there’s yesterday. He called to tell me I’m not using the right kind of grain for the chickens. When I told him there ain’t no better than what I use, he had the gall to correct me. He knows me well enough to know I said it that way on purpose.”

She nodded in an I-totally-agree-with-you sort of way.

“I told him if he would just come out to the ranch, I’d be happy to show him why I’ve got this under control. I know this place like the back of my hand. I told him I’d be happy to teach him all I know about what it takes to succeed as a cowhand or pig farmer or growing the best crop of wheat. Do you know what he said?”

“I can only gue …”

“I’ll tell you what he said. He said he knows what to do. He said I don’t need to explain a thing to him. You know what? I think he would have told God how to create the universe. I’m sure he would have had a better way.”

He paced and pushed his hand through his hair, tugging on it as if he could pull the frustration right out of his head.

“I’ve done all I can, Sarah. I even invited him to the house for supper. Told him I’d cook up steak—medium rare. Just the way he likes it. No one can grill a steak better than I can. He said he would pass on that unless I’d let him come over early and assist in the grilling. Assist. Yeah, right. We know what that means.”

 She sat down and paged through a magazine as he spoke. He didn’t seem to notice.

“That means he will tell me how it’s done. Last time he came over, he started up the tractor. I asked him, I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He told me he just wanted to listen to the engine. Wanted to be sure it’s running right.”

She sipped her coffee. It had grown cold, so she stepped into the kitchen to heat it up. “Want some coffee while I’m pouring?”

“I told him to get off that tractor. I told him I’ve been working on tractors since I was ten years old while he sat under a tree with one of his books.”

She noticed fresh cake on the counter and sliced a sliver off. Listening made her hungry … or bored. Cake was good for either one.

“I think next time he comes over here I’m going to let him know he isn’t king of the hill. I have done all I can to help him. From the moment we started kindergarten, he’s always had to have the last word. Do you have any idea how maddening that is?”

“Well, maybe …”

“I have noticed he’s that way on the phone, too. I called him the other day to let him know I stopped by the local farmer’s market and noticed they had mislabeled their produce. That manager tried to tell me the difference between beefsteak tomatoes and creole. I shut him down fast. Told him I’ve been growing tomatoes since I was knee high to a grasshopper. That manager just turned and walked away. But guess who knows more about tomatoes than I?”

Sarah scooted til her back rested against the couch cushion. Her feet dangled, so she crossed her ankles and tried to appear comfortable. She tilted her head to one side and set her gaze on Paul. She was great at the appearance of listening while going through a mental checklist of things to do.

“I ended the phone call by telling him thank you but no thank you. I didn’t need to hear which tomato is more acidic. Did I tell you I ran into him at the co-op store last week?”

“Actually, you said …”

“I was there to pick up dogfood. They have the best price in town, have I told you that already? Anyhow, he was standing there looking at coveralls. I tried to slip past him but he saw me. He called me over and proceeded to show me the double stitching. He tried telling me which coverall brand is superior. I told him I happen to know the guy whose great-great-great-grandfather came up with the idea of coveralls in the first place. I asked if he knew where the first pair of coveralls was made. Do you know where the first pair was made?”

Sarah resituated herself on the couch.

“Texas, of course. I thought everybody knew that. He tried to tell me it was Colorado. Whatever. Colorado.” He laughed at the very idea.

He paused. She raised one eyebrow, looked up at him, and waited.

He stepped to the window and eyed the dogs chasing each other across the field.

“Sometimes I wonder what dogs are thinking when they’re running around like that.”

“Where’s that bone?”

“Oh, don’t be silly. Dog’s never forget where they bury a bone. It’s in their DNA.”

He placed his cowboy hat squarely in place, rubbed his chin and turned to look at her.

“Oh, something else about my trip to the co-op. I took a quick look at the winter seed catalogue. Mr. Johnson was at the counter. You remember him?”

“He must be 90 years old by now!”

“Yeah, that’s him. He was looking at the seed catalogues too. I told him what I know to be the best buys.”

“But, Paul, Mr. Johnson has been farming longer than you’ve been alive.”

“I know it, quite the shame that he needed me to tell him what to plant. You know, if Stuart had been there I’m sure he would have argued with me. As sure as the day is long, he would have argued.”

Sarah returned to her magazine article, Choosing the Best Apples for Your Pie.

“What are you reading, there?” He looked over her shoulder. “Oh, I read that article. I don’t know who the author is, but she clearly has never made an apple pie. She says buy Granny Smith. Nope. Incorrect. Everyone knows its Fuji. Be careful what you read, there, sis.”

She closed the magazine and thought about another slice of cake. She looked down at her thighs and decided to skip it.

  “Back to Stuart. He’s coming by tomorrow to pick up his shovel. Do you know where the first shovel was used?”

She didn’t bother to answer. Instead, she drank the last of her now lukewarm coffee and shuddered at the bitter sip.

“It isn’t written down anywhere, but the first shovel was an invention of cavemen.”

“And you know this … how?”

He shook his head in disgust. “Are you really my sister or did Mom bring the wrong baby home?”

She pursed her lips then clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth. She learned these tricks long ago. It bought her time to find the self-control to keep quiet. It never did any good to argue with either of the boys. She was the baby sister, after all.

To her relief, his cell phone rang.

“Hello? No, no, I don’t think so. That can’t be right.”

She bit the corner of her lip and wondered who the caller might be.

“Statistics show most Americans are severely lacking vitamin D, not B. That’s because they spend so much time indoors. Not me. I get plenty of sun and fresh air. You’ll have to check your facts on that. Have a good day and hey, take a walk outside before you make your next sales call. Good luck.”

“Sales call?”

“Yeah. A rep from Healthy Harvest supplement company. He tried to tell me I need more vitamin B. Even if I did, Healthy Harvest isn’t the premier place to buy it. No, I happen to know Mother Earth has the purest vitamins. Well, unless you’re talking therapeutic oils. That’s another story. I diffuse only the best, Super Pure Oils for Life. I know my oils.”

“I’m sure.”

“What’s that?”

“I said I’m sure.”

“That sounds a bit condescending, don’t you think?”

She sat her coffee cup on the end table and gave her brother a half hug.

“Paul, you know me better than that. I’ll see ya later.”

He followed her to her car. “Do want to take any eggs with you? Not to brag or anything, but I’ve got plenty and they are even better than Egglands Best!”

Her back was to him, so she rolled her eyes. “No, thanks. I’ll pass.”

“They are better for your brain than any other egg. Rich in omega 3’s and healthy protein. You know, some doctors say eating egg yolks will raise your cholesterol, but that’s just not true. Especially if you choose whole grain toast to go along with your eggs … well, not just any eggs. My eggs.”

She rested her hand on the car door. “Thank you, Paul, but no thanks. I’ve plenty of eggs from when I stopped by a few days ago.”

“Sounds to me like you’re not eating enough. You need at least 1,200 calories a day. Be sure you’re getting your protein.”

“I’ll head home and make an egg sandwich on rye as soon as I get there.”

“You be careful now. Your car is in need of a tune up. I could hear it when you drove up. And these tires … looking a bit low on air.”

Sarah buckled up and waved farewell.

He watched her car maneuver the long, gravel driveway. He remembered the day he had the rock delivered. He sure was glad he was there to tell the driver the best way to unload his order. Had he been late, he was sure his driveway would have been ruined.

The dogs ran up with tails wagging. Each stood waiting his turn for an ear scratching. They sat and looked at him with adoration and loyalty.

“Pay attention, boys. I expect Sheriff Crum might come by later this afternoon. I saw him yesterday at the Donut Hut. After I bought him the best donut flavor in the house, I told him to be careful out there on the road. I told him the latest string of burglaries were taking place on the west side of town. He sure was glad I let him in on the info, he just looked at me and grinned. I guess I left him speechless.”

His thought’s took him back to the beginning of his conversation with Sarah.

I don’t know what I’ll do the next time Stu tries to tell me the right time of year to plant zucchini or how many hours of sleep I need each night.

Seriously, who does he think he is? I’ve spent time with him in hopes of helping him understand the inner workings of running a farm. Offered to take him under my wing. He doesn’t think there’s anything to learn.

I called him the last time I picked the perfect watermelon so I could tell him how it’s done. He had the nerve to tell me to check the color of the bottom of the melon. Crazy. I knocked until I found a hollow sounding melon. That’s how it’s done.

He walked to the barn to begin the roof repair.
Seriously though, I hate it when people think they know it all.